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Statement by Congregation Dor Hadash on Justice Department Decision to Seek Death Penalty

Yesterday, we learned that the U.S. Justice Department will seek the death penalty against the suspected shooter in the 2018 mass shooting that devastated three congregations and rocked the entire North American Jewish community.

Reconstructing Judaism is proud to share this moving statement from our Pittsburgh affiliate, Congregation Dor Hadash. And we note that Jewish tradition is weighted heavily against the use of the death penalty.

“Today, we are saddened and disappointed to learn that Attorney General Barr will pursue a trial and seek the death penalty for the perpetrator of the attack on October 27, 2018.

Earlier this month, Congregation Dor Hadash sent a letter to Attorney General Barr requesting that both parties agree to a plea bargain for life without parole. A deal would have honored the memory of Dor Hadash congregant Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, who was firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty. It would have prevented the attacker from getting the attention and publicity that will inevitably come with a trial, and eliminated any possibility of further trauma that could result from a trial and protracted appeals.

We continue to mourn with our fellow congregants and community members who have lost loved ones and survived unspeakable terror. We continue to reject hatred and all systems of oppression, and follow the tenets of our faith, which teaches us that only through our shared humanity can there be an end to hatred and violence.”

(For further insight, see Some Pittsburgh Jews upset by decision to seek death penalty in synagogue attack)

The Reconstructionist Network