Local Jewish communities reflect on one year since deadly attack on Pittsburgh synagogue

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Sunday marked one year since a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people.

Longtime congregation member of Temple Israel in Albany, Roz Judd, says last year’s brutal anti-Semitic attack has created a sense of unity in the Jewish congregation and among other religions.

“There has been an opening up of dialogue in these communities,” Judd told News10, “all of them feeling a certain amount of threat from hostile forces.”

The deadly attack in Pittsburgh has sparked changes at Temple Israel in the past year. Their President, Gary Ginsburg, telling News10 in a statement:

Over the past year, we have worked hard to maintain our synagogue’s welcoming culture, while also remaining vigilant and upgrading our security.

Gary Ginsburg, President, Temple Israel in Albany

Roz Judd and her husband, Gary, have been with Temple Israel since the 1960s. Gary says the updated security system is crucial based on what happened in Pittsburgh.

“[It’s] something we never would’ve thought of 10, 20, certainly not 50 years ago,” Judd told News10, “and yet it is necessary to have a guard at the door, or a way to get in that’s unique to members of the congregation as opposed to the general public.”

For Gary and Roz Judd, their faith wasn’t the only thing that made the Pittsburgh attack personal. Their daughter and son-in-law were in Pittsburgh when it happened. They go to a synagogue a block and a half away from Tree of Life.

They watched the news as it unfolded. Their first priority was to make sure their loved ones were okay.

“It was a very tense time and a very frightening time for us,” Roz recalled.

Since then, the Judds have reflected on what must change going forward, so this doesn’t happen again.

“We have to stand up to speeches of hate and indications of a lack of acceptance of others,” Gary Judd said, “I think those contribute to the kind of atmosphere that occurred in Pittsburgh that day a year ago, and other locations across the country and across the world.”

Today, people around the world participated in a virtual memorial service for the 11 lives lost that day. The Jewish Federation of North America called it “Pause with Pittsburgh.”

Phyllis Wang, President-Elect of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, says this small moment meant a lot to her community.

“What we want to happen is a global sense of unity. We don’t want to focus on the negative things,” Wang told News10, “we want to focus on what brings us all together.”

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