Thursday marked the fourth anniversary of the Oct. 27, 2018, shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which remains the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. Robert Bowers, who killed 11 worshippers, stormed into the Conservative synagogue on that Shabbat morning screaming “All Jews must die” and later told law enforcement that Jews “were committing a genocide to his people.”

“In the four years since that terrible day, the people of Pittsburgh have shown us what it means to be stronger than hate,” President Joe Biden said Thursday. “Welcoming the community to Torah study sessions. Showing their support for refugees and immigrants. Reimagining the Tree of Life synagogue as both sanctuary and memorial. The courage and character of the Pittsburgh community remains an inspiration to us all.”

The Pittsburgh attack came against the backdrop of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. and worldwide, a trend that continues to intensify today. It was followed by the April 2019 synagogue shooting in Poway as well as attacks in Monsey and Jersey City. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents reached an all-time high in the U.S. in 2021, with the more than 2,715 instances of Jew-hatred representing a 34% increase from 2020. Tel Aviv University’s Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry also documented that in 2021, anti-Semitic incidents rose 75% in France and 29% in Germany.

“As we grieve this deadliest act of anti-Semitism in American history, we stand with the community of Squirrel Hill—and Jewish communities across America and around the world—in resolving to combat anti-Semitism and hate in all of its forms,” Biden said. “This is especially true as we witness an ugly increase in anti-Semitism in America.”

U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) as well as Reps. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chairs of the Senate and House Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism, respectively, said in a joint statement Thursday that the Pittsburgh attack “was not an isolated incident—Jewish Americans are increasingly the targets of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and violent assaults.”

“At a time of heightened fear and anxiety for the Jewish community—when celebrities and emboldened extremist groups are increasingly spewing virulent anti-Semitism openly—let us recommit today to rejecting and condemning anti-Semitism in all its forms so that no other community has to ever experience a similar tragedy,” they stated, in an apparent reference to the series of recent anti-Semitic comments by Kanye West.


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