Four years after one of the deadliest antisemitic attacks in the US, the Jewish community in Pennsylvania expressed concern over the recent spike in antisemitism, with reference to Kanye West, in its annual commemoration of the 11 victims who lost their lives in the Tree of Life Synagogue attack.
Laura Cherner, director of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh said, “It is horribly sad that this week as our community tries to remember and heal, we are retraumatized with antisemitism once again making the headlines,” She made this reference to the widely publicized comments of Kanye West, who has voiced numerous antisemitic stereotypes in interviews and social media recently, including a tweet that he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
“It is horrifying to see someone with such a large platform casually espouse antisemitic conspiracy theories with such conviction and little regard for the violent impact his words may have,” she added.
The ceremony, held on Thursday, was scheduled at Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park, and was marked by music, prayers in Hebrew and English, and candle-lighting.
Despite concerns over rising antisemitism, participants said afterward they were focused on remembering the victims and what they stood for in being martyred during worship.
“We’re not defined by the people who would do us harm,” said Lauren Bairnsfather, director of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh and one of the event’s speakers. “We’re defined by our culture and tradition and the way we treat people. Remembrance is a strong part of it. I feel rising in me the strong commitment to live a Jewish life.”