Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania lawmakers solemnly remembered Wednesday the 11 worshippers killed in an anti-Semitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue last fall, expressing horror at what one speaker called “unimaginable evil,” and two rabbis recited prayers in English and Hebrew.
The rare joint session in the chambers of the state’s House of Representatives was attended by nearly two dozen family members of victims of the Oct. 27 attack on the three congregations holding services that day, and by Andrea Wedner, whose 97-year-old mother was killed and who was herself was among seven people wounded.
“The assault on these three congregations was an act of unimaginable evil,” said state Rep. Dan Frankel, whose district includes the Tree of Life building where the massacre occurred. “But it has been met with unfathomable bravery and love within our community and far beyond it. Literally hundreds of people acted heroically, starting within seconds of the first gunshot.”
The service was held a day after the Pittsburgh mayor signed new gun control measures that were introduced weeks after the attack. The legislation was immediately challenged in court by gun rights advocates who argued municipalities may not impose firearms regulations that go beyond what state law allows.
Dor Hadash Rabbi Cheryl Klein, whose congregation had a member killed and another wounded, told the joint session it was not enough to live by strategizing to survive — they want to live in a world where they can thrive.
“We know that there will never be a return to normalcy, but we move each day to bring more light into our lives and the lives of others,” said Klein, who was out of town the day of the attack.
She noted gun violence kills tens of thousands of Americans annually and said she prayed that lawmakers will find the courage to seek a path forward.