Summer Lee Delivers Powerful Speech on Tree of Life Pittsburgh Shooting As Trial Continues Post Verdict, Calls for Action to Combat Anti-Semitism &White Supremacy Calls, Solidarity between Marginalized Communities

Jun 21, 2023
Press

Summer Lee Delivers Powerful Speech on Tree of Life Pittsburgh Shooting As Trial Continues Post Verdict, Calls for Action to Combat Anti-Semitism &White Supremacy Calls, Solidarity between Marginalized Communities

“I want our Jewish siblings to know that we are in this fight together – every day, for as long as it takes.”

(Washington, DC) – After a verdict was reached in the ongoing trial for the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) delivered a powerful speech on the House Floor honoring the 11 Congregants of Congregation Dor Hadash, New Light Congregation and Tree of Life Congregation in her district, uplifting the trauma felt by Pittsburgh’s Jewish community through the trial, and calling for action dismantle great replacement theory, antisemitism, and systems of white supremacy threatening marginalized communities.

Click here or below to watch. Full transcript below. 

In February, Lee toured the site of the massacre and met with Foundation leadership and family members of those killed in the attack. Lee was profoundly moved by what she saw and the conversations she had with family members of those that were murdered about what can be done to help heal from the trauma that remains and their vision for the renovated building as a center to educate against antisemitism and hate. To aid in the renovation process, educate against antisemitism and help the community respond to and heal from the ongoing trauma with the start of the trial, Congresswoman Summer Lee is working to secure millions in community project funding, formerly known as earmarks). More on this below. 

Full transcript of remarks:

I rise today, with a heavy heart, to honor the memories of the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting – an attack on three Jewish congregations during Shabbat service on the morning of October 27th, 2018.

Back in Western PA, the trial for the deadliest antisemetic attack in our nation’s history is proceeding – the jury convicted the gunman on all 63 counts. Though this is a step towards justice, this trial reopened unimaginably painful wounds that have barely begun to heal. 

Congregation Dor Hadash, New Light Congregation and the Tree of Life Congregation all had members taken from them.

Their names were: 

Joyce Fienberg 

Richard Gottfried

Rose Mallinger

Jerry Rabinowitz

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

Bernice Simon – 

Sylvan Simon

Daniel Stein

Melvin Wax

Irving Younger

They were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, and colleagues. They were members of a vibrant community, who sought solace, peace, and unity within the walls of their synagogue. 

May their memories be forever a blessing. And May the strength and resilience shown by the survivors, the victims’ family members, and the entire Jewish community throughout this heartbreaking trial forever be an inspiration to us all. 

They inspire me to work even harder to confront the root causes of hatred, racism, and bigotry so that no community has to live in fear of such senseless violence ever again.  

And they were murdered by a white supremacist gunman who targeted them because of their faith and because their faith called them to welcome immigrants and refugees. 

The shooter was motivated by the “great replacement theory.” This was the same white supremacist theory that motivated the shooter in Buffalo to take the lives of 10 Black community members, the shooter in El Paso to take the lives of 23 Hispanic community members, and the shooter in Christchurch to take the lives of 51 Muslim worshippers. 

The best prediction of violent actions toward our communities is violent language. That holds in each of the four mass shooting examples I just mentioned. We must uphold the right to free speech while also working to stem the proliferation of violent rhetoric. 

When I visited the synagogue this past February, I met with the Tree of Life congregation leadership and several family members of those murdered. I was profoundly moved – both by the unimaginable pain of what I saw and the beautiful conversations I had. 

Together, we discussed what can be done to help the community heal from this trauma, and we discussed their vision for transforming the site into a center to educate against antisemitism and hate – a vision I support.

The attack on the three Pittsburgh Jewish congregations is part of a larger pattern of hate-fueled violence that plagues our nation. The Black community is all too familiar with the rising tide of white supremacy in this country. 

The federal government has the responsibility to act. We all have the responsibility to use our platforms to condemn the rhetoric and dismantle the systems of white supremacy that enable this and other kinds of violence against our communities. 

We must strengthen our gun laws to make sure weapons of war never enter the hands of someone capable of such violence. We must invest in resources to identify and dismantle extremist networks. We must work hand in hand with communities, engaging in dialogue and support, to address the root causes of hatred and to prevent future acts of violence.

If we don’t, things will continue to get worse. It is for this reason I would like to make a commitment. A commitment made by Reverend Eric Manning, senior pastor at Mother Emanuel Church AME, when he visited Pittsburgh. Mother Emanuel was the site of a 2015 shooting where a self-avowed white supremacist entered the Charleston, South Carolina church during a bible study and killed nine Black congregations members. 

When Reverend Manning spoke at the funeral of Rose Mallinger, the last of the 11 victims to be laid to rest, he said: “You are not alone… We mourn with you. We’re here for you and that will never change.” I commit myself to building bridges between marginalized communities and fighting back. I want our Jewish siblings to know that we are in this fight together – every day, for as long as it takes. 

I wanted to end with an excerpt from the jewish prayer for peace that Rose Mallinger led every saturday service:

May it be Your will,

that you erase war and bloodshed from the world

and in its place draw down

a great and glorious peace

so that nation shall not lift up sword against nation

neither shall they learn war any more.

let justice come in waves like water

and righteousness flow like a river,

for the earth shall be full

of the knowledge of the Holy One

as the waters cover the sea.

So may it be.

And we say:

Amen.

Fighting for Federal Funding to Address Trauma and Educate Against Antisemtism and white supremacy:

In February, Lee toured the site of the massacre and met with Foundation leadership and family members of those killed in the attack. Lee was profoundly moved by what she saw and the conversations she had with family members of those that were murdered about what can be done to help heal from the trauma that remains and their vision for the renovated building as a center to educate against antisemitism and hate. To aid in the renovation process, educate against antisemitism and help the community respond to and heal from the ongoing trauma with the start of the trial, Congresswoman Summer Lee is working to secure millions in community project funding (formerly known as earmarks):

  • Lee is working to deliver $3,451,258 for the Tree of Life Congregation to create a community gathering and education space to teach about antisemitism and identity within the renovated Tree of Life building, which The Tree of Life congregation met on Sunday to mark the beginning of the renovation process that will soon transform the site into a museum, memorial and center for education. The plans feature a design that aims to “balance the light with the darkness” and will strive to tell a story of hope and redemption, instead of massacre and sorrow. On Sunday, April 23rd, in the garden outside of the Tree of Life synagogue, congregation members and neighbors came together to say “until we see each other again” to the building that once served as a center of worship for so many in the Jewish community in Squirrel Hill and all of Pittsburgh. 
  • Lee is working to deliver $547,212 to 10.27 Healing Partnership at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh to respond to and address the ongoing trauma from the 2018 Synagogue Mass Shooting in the lead-up to and in the aftermath of the trial. The goal of this project is to deepen the effectiveness of community-based work initiated by the initial investment from the federal government after the attack, focused on victim support, healing, and increasing the capacity of community partners to navigate trauma and resiliency following this horrific mass casualty event and the ongoing threat of antisemitism, white supremacy, and gun violence 

Recent Posts


Apr 11, 2024
Press

Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall

For Immediate Release  April 11, 2024  Contact  Natalie Adams (Casey): 202-228-3789 Charlie Hills (Fetterman): 202-228-6099  Emilia Rowland (Lee): 330-212-2065   Zoe Bluffstone (Deluzio): 771-444-0316  Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall Additional funding follows recent flooding that closed the critical route The Members secured $142.34 million for the […]



Apr 9, 2024
Press

Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development

**For IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development PITTSBURGH, PA — Today, Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) led a letter with 35 colleagues to […]



Mar 28, 2024
Press

Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation 

For Immediate Release  Emilia Rowland, Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation  Lee’s bill was passed through the Science, Space, and Technology Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan basis and awaits a vote by the full House  Pittsburgh, PA — Today, Congresswoman  […]