Connecticut’s Jewish leadership reacts to massacre in Pittsburgh

HAMDEN/HARTFORD -- The reaction to the mass shooting in Pittsburgh from some of Connecticut's Jewish leaders has been one of sorrow, but not surprise.

Some 500 families worship in Hamden's Congregation Mishkan Israel, where the congregation's new Rabbi says safety has long been a priority.

Rabbi Brian Immerman, in his three months as with Congregation Mishkan Israel, says he and other leadership constantly have conversation about security.

"It's about how we best protect everybody, who comes in our building, and we also have a preschool filled with dozens of children," said Immerman.

At the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven, in Woodbridge, Saturday's mass shooting will keep them focused on the safety first mission, as well.

"We are open to all members of the community, regardless of Jewish, non-Jewish," said Judy Alperin=, the
Chief Operating Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven . "We have all kinds of groups that meet here for educational purposes, social, recreational."

The JCC has 1,600 members. Alperin say every door in this facility is locked and alarmed, except the front door.

"They require every non-member to scan their license when they come in the building because it’s critically important that we know who is walking through our doors," Aperin says.

Some suggests President Donald J. Trump's comportment gives license to this sort of horrific event. But, the Anti Defamation League was pleased with the President's initial reaction.

"He said that this was not what we wanted in our country," said Steve Ginsburg, the Connecticut Regional Director of the Anti Defamation League.

But, he Gisnburg added, Trump, and other political leaders, need to do more to calm down this rhetoric, which, "emboldens people like Robert Powers to think they they now have license to act on their hate."

"We need change and our country," Rabbi Immerman added. "We need to respect each other and we need to love each other."

He says Congregation Mishkan Israel can be a voice for change because this nearly 180 year old house of worship has long been a social justice advocate,
including when one of their Rabbis marched in Selma with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.

"Dr. King spoke from that very pulpit right there when we dedicated this sanctuary in 1961," Immernan noted.

Ginsburg, of the ADL, says he was on a conference call with the FBI yesterday and that they said they haven’t concluded their investigation, but, they were confident that the man charged with killing 11 people in Pittsburgh acted alone.

At the University of Hartford Jacob Nemeth helped organize a vigil not only for members of the Jewish community, but for all people.

Jacob Nemeth, Alpha Epsilon Pi President, said "this time it affected my community. This was the most lethal act against the Jewish population in U.S. history."

Joel Leyden of the Israel News Agency Publisher, said, "Beyond heartbreaking. These are our brothers these are our sisters."