Diocesan News

Local Concern, Security Rises After Synagogue Shooting

By Tim Harfmann

NYPD officers can be seen outside a Brooklyn synagogue, where there has been increased security following the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo Tim Harfmann)

Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Crown Heights, are still in shock following the deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“I don’t know why he would have such hatred for Jews,” said Edward Klein as he left the Brooklyn temple.

Now, they’re concerned for their own safety. The NYPD increased security around the city as a precaution. Additional officers, including members of the Strategic Response Team, patrolled the synagogue on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue. Every day, thousands worship at the temple.

“The Jewish people always feel like a family. And when we see something happen over there, we also become afraid over here,” said Rabbi Gavriel Avichzer.

There was a big jump in anti-Semitic attacks in 2017 – up more than 50 percent from 2016, according to the latest report from the Anti-Defamation League.

Brooklyn is home to 600,000 Jewish people. One-in-four residents of the borough follow the faith.

Klein is an auxiliary police officer. When he attends synagogue, he carries his legally authorized pistol as a precaution.

“God forbid if I have to use it, according to the law, I can. And I probably would,” said Klein.

Four blocks from the synagogue, Father Frank Black is concerned for his community at St. Matthew parish.

“At this stage of our existence, it’s shocking that this is happening. It’s really crazy,” said Father Black, St. Matthew’s pastor.

“I thought we’ve come so far, then you see things like this, and we’re taking steps backwards. It’s hurtful.”

But hoping to move forward, Father Black said his Catholic parishioners want to reach out to their Jewish neighbors to learn about their faith.

“As a result of this, they really want to build up the unity and the commonality we have as decent people rather than look at what separates us. so they’re really trying to reach out to that, and I hope that will happen this year.”

Msgr. Guy Massie, diocesan vicar for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, stressed the importance of Catholics reaching out and coming together with local Jewish communities at this time.

“We need to emphasize the common brother- and sisterhood of all people,” he said in an interview with Currents News anchor Liz Faublas.

“We need to hear very clearly our readings that God is the Father of all and we need to recognize people as having dignity.”