Anyone who knows Pittsburgh knows its sports teams are the soul of the city. An independent graphic artist changed the top of the epic symbol of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team from a yellow diamond shape to a Star of David and inserted “Stronger Than Hate,” a quote from the mayor of Pittsburgh, in the space where normally is the name “Steelers.” This non-Jewish artist explained he was helping a Jewish friend move in Squirrel Hill when they heard multiple sirens headed toward the Tree of Life synagogue. Discovering what had happened, he headed home to do his artwork. It went viral.
The day after the shooting a banner was hung at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh with the image. Before the game, eleven seconds of silence were held in honor of the eleven killed. Art Rooney II, president of the Steelers from an Irish Catholic family, tweeted:
On behalf of the entire Steelers organization we offer our support and condolences to the families of the attack on peaceful citizens worshiping at the Tree of Life synagogue. Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community.
…The relationship between the Tree of Life and the Diocese of Pittsburgh has been close over many years. Anti-Jewish bigotry, and all religious and ethnic bigotry, is a terrible sin…we must put prayer into action by loving our neighbors and working to make ‘Never again!’ a reality…
—Bishop Zubik, Diocese of Pittsburgh
…To the victims, their families, and the entire Jewish community of Pittsburgh, know that we mourn with you and stand united against anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and hatred.
— U.S. Representative Conor Lamb
William Penn, Esq. The Charter of Privileges, 1701
FIRST. No person believing in One GOD, &c. shall be molested on Account of his Religious Persuasion;
BECAUSE no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship ...
Borrowing an idea from Quakers, I believe the Jewish people have Friends, spiritual partners, Mithaverei Yisrael. The Quakers settled Pennsylvania seeking religious freedom, wanting to build a new kind of society. The response of thousands to the Tree of Life tragedy may prove this idea has taken root.
While there is a documented rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., there is also a growing, significant non-Jewish rejection of this hatred. Shortly before the anniversary of the tragedy, Pittsburgh City Council established October 27, in perpetuity, as a “Remember Repair Together Day” in Pittsburgh.
RABBI PETER K. GLUCK, PhD, MSW, is an independent scholar in applied research based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.