de Blasio response synagogue shooting

Mayor's Office

Local Leaders Unify After Synagogue Shooting: 'NYC Will Never Succumb To Hate'

October 28, 2018 - 5:22 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Elected officials and religious leaders gathered Sunday in a somber show of solidarity with the victims of a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue the day before.

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Rev. Al Sharpton, the senior rabbi of the Temple Emanu-El and others to denounce hate and show unity in response to the shooting, which left 11 people dead.

The press gathering at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side, one of the oldest and most visible synagogues in New York, displayed “the harmony of this city,” the mayor said.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Pittsburgh today. Our hearts go out to the members of the Tree of Life synagogue. We feel at one with them. I hope they can feel the love and the prayers and the soulful solidarity of the people of New York City,” the mayor said.

The mayor said New Yorkers know that hatred has to be confronted “head-on” and that we can’t “sweep it under the rug” or “act like it won’t get worse.”

 “This gathering sends a message: New York City will never succumb to hate. We will never allow ourselves to be divided. We will never allow people to separate us by faith or nationality,” the mayor said. “Here in New York City we are one large family. We are a place for everyone.”

The mayor said there are no credible threats to New York but that there will be an increased police presence at Jewish community centers and synagogues.  

Rabbi Joshua Davidson, the senior rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El, said the synagogue received solidarity and prayers from many over the past day. 

“We are all in this together, no matter our faith, our race, our ethnicity, our gender identity or preference,” Davidson said.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said the diverse people in attendance represented the branches of the tree of life.

“If hate mongers thought they were going to separate us from one another, they were greatly mistaken; on the contrary, they brought us closer together,” Potasnik said.

Potasnik said one of the first calls he received after the showing was from Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Echoing Pope Francis, Dolan called the shooting a “wound for the entire human family, [but> a particular wound for the Jewish family.”

“A violent attack on any human life is bad. Horrible. Awful. Nauseating. A violent attack on people who are at prayer in a sanctuary that’s characterized by peace and unity is worse, and a violent attack upon a people, the Jewish people, who have suffered for centuries, adds to the degradation and horror yesterday.”

Dolan said New York City’s diversity and resolve could act as an example to the world.

“In this city, we get along. We love one another. We work together. Do we sometimes argue, do we disagree? Yes. But the respect for the inherent dignity of every human being and the sacredness of human life we never, ever question.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed flags to be flown at half-staff from Monday to next Sunday in honor of the victims of the shooting and another deadly shooting t a supermarket in Kentucky that’s also being investigated as a hate crime.

“The hate in this country has reached a fever pitch and it is bubbling over into violence. This past week, the entire nation was shaken by targeted attempted political bombings, by the racist attack in Kentucky and by the anti-Semitic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh,” the governor said in a statement.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said we’ve been “through a week that has traumatized many in this country.”

“Until we can share each other’s pain with the equal outrage, we continue to normalize this bias and bigotry,” Sharpton said. “And we must have the courage as faith leaders to go into our communities and challenge those extremists.”

New York is home to the largest Jewish community outside of Israel.

Police said alleged gunman Robert Gregory Bowers told officers that Jews were committing genocide and that he wanted them all to die.

In an arrest affidavit made public early Sunday, police said Bowers killed eight men and three women in the Tree of Life Synagogue before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him.

Bowers is charged with 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.