‘Jesus Is Jewish, Present Tense’: Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, Why We Need to Care


The recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting massacre of our brothers and sisters has gotten under my skin. It's pissed me off, ripping through my news cycle compassion fatigue. As Christians, it should piss us all off. Here's why.

In a time of seemingly unending hate, it’s important to remember that history has proven to us time and time again that hate will not win. It never does. Evil tyrants and weak hate-filled people hiding behind triggers will come, yes. Though none will ever be greater than love—never outlast its stamina or reach. None will ever be greater than Love Himself. But the recent Pittsburgh shooting of our brothers and sisters has gotten under my skin. It’s pissed me off, ripping through my news cycle compassion fatigue. Especially so soon after returning from Israel, where I had fallen in love with not only the land of our ancestors but our ancestors—past, present and future—themselves.

'Jesus Is Jewish, Present Tense': Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, Why We Need to Care

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / USA, Oct 27, 2018: Members of the Pittsburgh PD Swat team secure the area around Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the scene of Saturday morning’s mass shooting. Image courtesy of Shutterstock, Inc., Used By Permission.

That is why this mass shooting, one of what seems like an endless barrage, has forced me to look it’s atrocities right in the face, denying me the glazed-over indifference I have become accustomed to using as a protective shield against the relentless news cycles of doom. I’m not going to lie, I don’t want to look, I don’t want to read another story of hate, pain, survival. But this one I  can’t send to voicemail—I have to see it, really see it. I have to find a way to steady, seek, trust my way to a higher viewpoint. And when I do that, each time I hear the declarations of Michael W. Smith’s Prince of Peace well up, carrying with it the truth:

You are Lord of Lords
You are King of Kings
You are mighty God
Lord of Everything
You’re Emanuel
You’re the Great I Am
You’re the Prince of Peace
Who is the Lamb
You’re the saving God
you’re my saving Grace
You will reign forever
You are Ancient of days
You are Alpha, Omega,
Beginning, and End
You’re my savior, Messiah
Redeemer and Friend
You’re my prince of peace
And I will live my life for You

As I lean into trust, I have to digest the truth. “This weekend the faith community has united together to mourn the loss of 11 people killed during a mass shooting that took place at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday. It has been confirmed as the worst anti-semitic attack in U.S. history. During Shabbat service, a lone gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood before screaming “all Jews must die!” and opening fire. He continued to shoot for around 20 minutes as terrified worshippers sought shelter from the relentless gunfire,” Faithwire reported.

Horrific. Unexcusable. And insurmountable without action-filled love.

As Christians that required action begins with understanding how this attack is more than just some removed distant attack on strangers. Russell Moore for The Washington Post wrote, “As we look at a world surging with resurgent ‘blood-and-soil’ ethno-nationalism, much of it anti-Semitic in nature. As Christians, we should have a clear message of rejection of every kind of bigotry and hatred, but we should especially note what anti-Semitism means for people who are followers of Jesus. We should say clearly to anyone who would claim the name “Christian” the following truth: If you hate Jews, you hate Jesus.”

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“Jesus is Jewish, present tense,” Moore continues.

Furthermore, Moore adds, “As Christians, we are, all of us, adopted into a Jewish family, into an Israelite story. We, who were once not a people, have been grafted on, in Jesus, to the branch that is Israel (Romans 11:17-18). That’s why the New Testament can speak even to Gentile Christians as though the story of their own forefathers were that of the Old Testament scriptures. We have been brought into an Israelite story, a story that started not in first-century Bethlehem but, millennia before, in the promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations.”

This happened to our brothers, to our sisters, to our family. 11 of our family were brutally murdered out of hate for their heritage, their faith—both of which we share. 

Where do we go from here? I’m not sure. But I’m going to start by following Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, leader of the Tree of Life congregation’s lead, “I’m a victim. I’m a survivor. I’m a mourner,” he said, according to CNN. “My holy place has been defiled,” but “we will rebuild.”