Synagogue shooting proves hate, anti-Semitism are still very much alive

In what has become far too commonplace in this country, another mass shooting occurred over the weekend — this time, right here in Pennsylvania — as an anti-Semitic gunman rampaged through the Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday morning in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, killing 11 and injuring several others.

It was clear from his social media posts — some made just moments before he began his attack — that the shooter, Robert Bowers, clearly blamed all the world’s ills on Jews and that they must pay because of it. He reiterated that stance in interviews with police after the massacre, telling police “I just want to kill Jews” and that “all these Jews need to die.”

Bowers is clearly not the first person to harbor feelings of hatred toward Jews (or act upon them violently) and, unfortunately, he won’t be the last. Anti-Semitism has been around for thousands of years and reality is that it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Neither are the jokes and stereotypes.

Has our country and culture made strides as the years and decades pass regarding religious tolerance? Certainly. You don’t see nearly as many people who are openly hateful toward Jews or other religious groups, even from a generation ago.

But Saturday’s senseless tragedy illustrates that there is still much progress yet to be made.

One of this nation’s founding principles is that those who live here are free to practice whatever faith they so choose, if any at all. This attack on Saturday was an attack on anyone who values his or her religious freedom.

Our sincerest condolences go out to all those affected by this shameful act of terror and to the Jewish faith at large.

It is our hope that this tragedy reminds us all of what it is we share, rather than what it is we don’t.