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Pittsburgh Jewish Federation urges vigilance after alleged antisemitic acts

Group’s security director notes rash of incidents, which included an assault that left a Jewish man with broken bones, came amid rising antisemitism over Israel-Hamas fighting

A man wearing a Stronger Than Hate Yamulke stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, the first anniversary of the shooting at the synagogue, that killed 11 worshippers.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Illustrative: A man wearing a Stronger Than Hate Yamulke stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, the first anniversary of the shooting at the synagogue, that killed 11 worshippers.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has urged Jews in the Pennsylvania city to “be vigilant” following a series of alleged antisemitic incidents.

At least one Orthodox Jew in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood was assaulted this month and three others were berated with antisemitic slurs, the federation told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday.

The group’s security director noted a rise in antisemitism in the United States following last month’s military hostilities between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

“We have seen over the past month or so a rise in antisemitism that was largely spurred by the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” Shawn Brokos was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “We have seen it across the nation; we’ve seen it globally, and up until two weeks ago we hadn’t seen it impact us in Pittsburgh.”

She said that on June 6, three Jews were accosted by a man shouting “antisemitic and hateful” slurs as they walked home from synagogue in Squirrel Hill and that on June 13, a Jew was physically assaulted while returning from a different house of worship.

The victim was thrown on the ground during the assault and suffered several broken bones, necessitating hip replacement surgery, according to Brokos.

Police are looking into whether the assault was a hate crime, according to the report.

Squirrel Hill is home to the Tree of Life synagogue, where in 2018 a gunman killed 11 and wounded seven worshipers during Shabbat prayers. The shooting is considered the most deadly antisemitic attack in American history.

A man places flowers outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2020, the second anniversary of the shooting at the synagogue, that killed 11 worshippers. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Brokos said people should not live in fear but should be vigilant about what is going on around them.

“If we stop going to services, or walking to synagogue, or amending our daily routines, then fear has won, and we can’t let that happen to us here in Pittsburgh,” she said.

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