Statement on Tragic Events at Tree of Life Synagogue

October 29, 2018

We are deeply saddened by the horrendously violent tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh that took place on October 27th and claimed the lives of eleven people and harmed several others, including law enforcement and first responders. Our thoughts and condolences go out to all the families of the victims.

With the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Jay Phillips Center acknowledges that “The Jewish people, alongside other peoples who faced genocide, know deeply the experience of historical rupture; today is one of those days when the memory of hate is too present once more.” We echo the sentiment of Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), who sagely reminds us “an attack on a synagogue is an attack on a mosque, is an attack on a church, is an attack on a temple.”

We at the Jay Phillips Centers will continue to strive towards cultivating understanding and friendship across lines of religious difference and to foster constructive relations between and among people of various religious identities, with an eye to doing whatever we can to help prevent future tragedies such as these.

With the JCRC, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the many organizations and people who work hard every day to build understanding across religious divides, we want our local Jewish communities and the community of Squirrel Hill to know that we stand with you, your families, and loved ones. “You are never alone.”

  • Hans Gustafson, Director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas
  • John Merkle, Director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John’s University