Cardinal, Mayor, Jewish Leaders Plea for Unity After Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting


Cardinal Dolan, in a show of solidarity alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the New York Board of Rabbis, and numerous other civic and religious leaders of New York, participated in a press conference outside a Jewish house of worship on Manhattan’s Upper East Side the day after a deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“A violent attack on any human life is bad, horrible, awful, nauseating,” the cardinal said in remarks in the early afternoon Oct. 28 near the entrance of Temple Emanu-El, located at Fifth Avenue and East 65th Street. “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,” he said.

The Sunday afternoon gathering in New York, which also included Senior Rabbi Joshua Davidson of Temple Emanu-El, Imam Talib and civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, among numerous others, was held in response to the Saturday morning attack Oct. 27 at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh during a baby-naming ceremony. There were 11 fatalities, all adults. Six others were injured, including four members of law enforcement, according to reports. Authorities have described it as the deadliest rampage ever against the Jewish community in the United States.

“I thank God for the amity and interreligious dialogue that we have in this great City of New York,” Cardinal Dolan said in his remarks. “How proud you must be, Mayor de Blasio, to know that 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,” the cardinal said.

“And that’s why we stand firm and strong and steadfast today, and that’s why I appreciate this opportunity to say so.”

Mayor de Blasio, in his remarks, said the gathering “sends a message.” New York City, he said, “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, or any of the other things that make up the distinctions of the human family because here in New York City we are one larger family, we are a place for everyone.”

Rabbi Davidson said that as one of the oldest and most visible synagogues in New York, Temple Emanu-El received “the solidarity and prayers of many over the past 24 hours, and we are grateful.”

He thanked the cardinal, the mayor, and other elected and faith leaders, as well as the NYPD “which ensures that our houses of prayer are indeed sanctuaries from such violence as we witnessed yesterday in Pittsburgh where, just as we were gathering for worship here” a gunman entered Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and “declared his hatred of Jews and killed 11 congregants.”

“Our hearts reach out to the families of those murdered and wounded, and to their temple community,” Rabbi Davidson said. “We grieve beside them.”

Rabbi Potasnik, executive vice-president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said, “We have learned as Jews,” as people of all faiths, “that the person who hates me today, hates you tomorrow. The person who hurts me today, will hurt you tomorrow. So thus, when a mosque is desecrated, we as Jews stand with Muslims; when a synagogue is desecrated, Muslims in this city stand with us. When any house of worship of any faith is desecrated, we all come together.”

In welcoming the cardinal to the podium, Rabbi Potasnik told those assembled that one of the first calls he received was from Cardinal Dolan. “This is a person who truly reaches out to all of us and reminds us we can be of different faiths but we belong to one family.”

After offering his sympathy to the Jewish community, Cardinal Dolan said “as Pope Francis said this morning in Rome, this is a wound for the entire human family; it’s a particular wound for the Jewish family.”

Catholic News Service contributed to this article.