Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh is hitting close to home for Jewish people in the Show-Me State. News of the tragedy affected congregants at Temple Israel in southwest Missouri’s Rogersville.
Rabbi Barbara Block told KOLR-TV last weekend’s attack will mean reviewing the synagogue’s security measures to help ensure that what happened in Pittsburgh doesn’t happen in Rogersville. “To hear that a Jewish synagogue was attacked during a worship service and to hear that the killer yelled ‘all Jews must die’ of course hits close to home. It was horrifying to learn of,” says Rabbi Barbara Block.
One day after the shooting in Pittsburgh, Rabbi Block had to stand strong for her congregants during their Sunday service at Temple Israel. “We don’t stop with sadness and grief, we recognize that we need to continue working to make the world a better place,” says Rabbi Block.
It’s a world that Rabbi Block believes is torn apart because of political tension and rhetoric she partially blames for the attack on innocent people worshipping. “The divided political climate in this country has I believe contributed to a rise in overt acts against people who are different from the mainstream,” said Block.
Rabbi Block knows what it’s like to have parents who are different. They fled Austria to the United States during The Holocaust in hopes of escaping persecution; never imagining the murder of Jewish people would happen in America too. “My parents were fortunate in that they were able to come to this country and the idea that the kind of hatred has arisen here is very disturbing,” Block said.
While Rabbi Block knows there’s no single solution to the violent racism in this country, she says a good start is to look past a person’s appearance and search their heart. “I know that this man believed that Jews need to be killed and he was learning from websites and the white supremacists and I think, ‘What if he had gotten to know someone Jewish? Might that have changed what happened?” says Rabbi Block.
Temple Israel in Rogersville will be celebrating a milestone, its 125th anniversary this upcoming Sunday.
(Missourinet contributor KOLR-TV contributed this report)