Former Rabbi of Targeted Pittsburgh Synagogue Speaks Out

“On Sabbath, an open door.”

Rabbi Chuck Diamond, a former Rabbi at Tree of Life Synagogue.AP/Gene J. Puskar

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When Chuck Diamond heard there had been a shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life congregation, he started heading right over. He was stopped at a police barricade several blocks away, as investigators on the other side reckoned with the scene of destruction that has left multiple people dead, and at least four police officers wounded. Diamond, who served as a rabbi at Tree of Life for seven years until departing about a year and a half ago, was huddling with community members and coming to grips with the idea that he would know some of the killer’s victims.

“Knowing of the parties involved…I’m nervous,” he said.

Diamond—”people call me Rabbi Chuck”—says there’s nothing about the congregation he once led, located in the traditionally Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, that would stand out and make it a target. “It’s surprising,” he said. “It’s quiet.”

“This is known as the Jewish area in town. This is a great place to be a Jewish person,” Diamond said.

In his time with the congregation, Diamond says they got some security advice from the local Jewish federation, but never received any threats. But the notion that something could happen, Diamond says “has always been a thought in the back of my mind.”

While the building is locked on weekdays, “on Sabbath, an open door. Someone could have just walked in the building and…” Diamond said, choosing not to finish the sentence.

 

 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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