Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Saturday state police, regional and local law enforcement to step up patrols around Jewish centers and houses of worship in response to the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The shooting has given local religious leaders pause, with at least one area house of worship reconsidering its long-term security measures.
Meanwhile, Schenectady area religious leaders will come together Monday night in the city to show support for those in Pittsburgh and to emphasize what should come out of what is believed to be one of the deadliest against the Jewish community in the United States.
“While the nation awaits further details of what occurred, initial reports suggest that this senseless act of gun violence was an anti-Semitic attack and we stand together with the Jewish community in this difficult time as we always have before,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We, as a nation, must stand together and stand against the corrosive and destructive forces of hate in all of its forms.”
In Schenectady, the Congregation Gates of Heaven announced it will host a “moment of solidarity” Monday night at 7 p.m. in response to the shooting, which resulted in at least 11 people being killed. Six more were wounded, two in critical condition late Saturday.
Gates of Heaven Rabbi Matthew Cutler said the solemn event will be lead by the Schenectady Clergy Against Hate, an interfaith association of religious leaders and their members.
Cutler said the tragic shooting may change the synagogue’s approach to the issue of building security members’ religious activities.
“Basically everyone is taking this very to heart,” Cutler said. “This could have been any house of worship, but this one was very scary because this was a synagogue, and people feel vulnerable.”
“There was pain and a real sense of tragedy and loss and racism and anti semitism that has run amok,” Cutler said. “For a long time, we’ve been trying to hold off on saying we need extra security. We need extra protection because we believed that in a house of worship there was something sacred, and beyond this type of assault.”
“We’re reevaluating what we’re doing now because of the vulnerability from a lone gunman and a person with a lot of anger and hatred and nobody to check it,” Cutler said. “So, we will be very cautious and on guard.”
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Diocese of Albany released a statement condemning the shooting.
“The gruesome attack on families celebrating the life of a newborn at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this morning was a despicable act of anti semitism and of violence against the sanctity of all human life,” Scharfenberger said.
“We pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters as they pick up the pieces of their shattered community in the aftermath of this hate-driven crime,” Scharfenberger said. “We pray, too, for those whose lives were cut short, for those who lost loved ones, and for those who put themselves in danger in an effort to protect others.”