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WHHS staff shares thoughts about synagogue shooting
December 11, 2018
On Oct. 27, 2018, Robert Bowers opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and wounding four officers. As Bowers was leaving, he encountered the police, exchanged gunfire and barricaded himself inside a third floor room. He then surrendered with multiple gunshot wounds.
According to CNN, Bowers told police during the shootout, “I just want to kill Jews.”
According to Vox. there were 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. This is a large part of the nearly five percent spike in hate crimes in 2017. Also a staggering 19,000 Anti-Semitic tweets have been written on Twitter, according to CNN in 2017.
Adviser of the L’chaim Club (formerly the Jewish Culture Club) Susan Donnett shared her thoughts on the anti-Semitism that is still happening in the United States.
“[This is not] the first time in the history of the Jewish people. This is a common occurrence that doesn’t make it any easier. It doesn’t make it any more correct,” Donnett said.
She also explained her perspective on the response to the shooting, saying, “The message that came out in the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh was that love conquers hate, hate eats you up alive and love keeps you alive.”
And it was not just the Jewish community that came together. “The Muslim community and the Christian community all show that we share an understanding of God that is one of love and compassion,” Donnett said.
When asked if there have been anti-Semitic activities at WHHS, Donnett said, “We have had anti-Semitic activities here at Walnut Hills High School over the course of my years here. To the credit of the school and to the credit of the administration, they have always been addressed properly.”
In considering this, Donnett said, “And that’s part of what you have to do, you have to face hate down and face discrimination down and show them that you will not be bullied because people often who do these horrible things feel that they have no power. They want to feel that they have power and this is how they show.”
When asked about how the shooting affects the Jewish community at WHHS, counselor Renita Brooks said, “I think they [students] might be concerned for their safety because of this example of injustice against Jewish people. And in another part of the country, especially one that’s so close to our city, probably makes them feel uncomfortable. And it makes them feel like it can happen here at home,” Brooks said.
She also added, “Just like we always heard about mass shootings everywhere else, and you didn’t think it would happen here. And then we have what happened at the Fifth Third Bank. So I’m sure it makes them uncomfortable.”
In spite of this, Donnett and her club have been very welcoming to outsiders. For people interested in Jewish culture, she said, “We would strongly encourage any student [who] wants to come to our meetings and join our cooking and our dancing and the different activities that we do. It is not a religious leader based club meeting, but it is based upon the ethics of our faith.”