In the aftermath of last week’s deadly shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, the Jewish community in Pittsburgh is banding together to support the victims.
Eleven people were shot dead last October at the Tree Of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by a gunman who allegedly harbored anti-Semitic views. In the wake of that shooting, the Muslim community stood in solidarity with their Jewish neighbors, raising more than $230,000 for the victims and their families.
Jewish groups in Pittsburgh are now reciprocating that kindness.
The Tree of Life congregation launched a GoFundMe campaign on Saturday to help the victims of the New Zealand shootings, which left at least 50 dead and dozens more injured.
″[W]e feel compelled to come to the aid of those communities, just as our Jewish community was so compassionately supported only a few short months ago by people around the world of many faiths,” the campaign page stated. “We recall with love the immediate, overwhelming support Tree of Life received from our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh.”
“To the families going through the most difficult moments in your lives: the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is with you,” it continued. “Our hearts are with you. We hold you in our prayers.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has also launched an online fundraiser for the victims of the New Zealand attack. A spokesman for the group told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that more than $20,000 was raised within the first six hours of the fundraiser’s launch on Friday.
“I hoped against hope that four-and-a-half months after [the Tree of Life shooting] that we would never have to step up in same way for the Muslim community or any community, anywhere as a result of a mass shooting. But given what they did for us we did not have to think twice,” Josh Sayles, director of the federation’s community relations council, told the paper.
More than 2,000 donors have since donated to the fund, Sayles said. The total amount raised was not disclosed.
At the time of this writing, the Tree of Life congregation has raised more than $5,000 on GoFundMe.
“We’re unfortunately part of a club that nobody wants to be a part of, and we wanted to reach out to New Zealand in the same way everyone reached out to us,” Sam Schachner, the congregation’s president, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Each community is a little bit unique, but what we share is a desire for love to conquer hate, and for all of us to have a safe place to pray,” he added.