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Des Moines’ Jewish Community Plans Vigil After Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

DES MOINES, Iowa — The local Jewish community is mourning after Saturday morning’s attack that is believed to be the deadliest on the Jewish Community in United States history.

Mark Finkelstein, the Community Relation Director for the Jewish Federation in Des Moines, says the killings in Pittsburgh reflect a rise in antisemitism.

“There has been a rise in antisemitism over the last number of years, but especially between 2017 and this year. There has been a significant increase and part of that increase is created by white nationalist who are anti semitic,” Finkelstein said.

Authorities have released the names of the eleven people killed after a suspected anti-semite opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Saturday. The dead includes two brothers, and a husband and wife.

Federal prosecutors have filed a host of hate crime charges against 46 year-old Robert Bowers in connection with the shootings. They say he had posted numerous anti semitic comments on social media.

In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds ordered the flags to fly at half staff in the wake of the tragedy.

Finkelstein says the key to fighting intolerance is simply to listen to others.

“The best remedy for intolerance is to get to know your neighbor. Once you do, you find they are not so different than oneself,” Finkelstein said. “We hope that everybody pulls together as a community against all forms of bigotry.”

Faith leaders and community members will gather for a vigil for the Tree of Life Synagogue on Monday night from 5:30-7:00 pm at the Tifereth Israel Synagogue at 924 Polk Blvd, Des Moines, IA. The goal of the vigil is to bring a message of hope and healing. The Jewish community and the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa invites Des Moines to stand together in support of the Jewish community and all others who experience hate.

“The times we live in are violent times, they are intolerant times. We cannot as a country live without respecting each other,” Finkelstein said.

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