Pittsburg shooting sheds light on the need for a tolerant society

Sydney Kass, Features Editor

There is a Hebrew saying: “Ma nishtana?” It asks “why is this different” or “what has changed?” In light of Saturday, Oct. 27, when 11 Jews were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ma nishtana? Why was this shooting different from any other shooting? 

As the temporary Facebook profile pictures revert back to their original statuses and new issues enter the news, it may seem as though this event was simply another shooting that will be blurred into the numerous massacres that have been littering our nation, especially as of late.

However, this is not the case.  Oct. 27 marked the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States.  This fatal act of intolerance has the people asking many, many difficult questions. What’s next? For Jews?  For the country?  As Americans, how can we push forward?  Will it get better?  What can we do?

There are unfortunately no concrete answers to any of these questions. But this should not discourage us from trying to find them.

According to the United States Department of State, anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” The department also states that anti-Semitic manifestations are directed towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities, as well as Jewish or non-Jewish people and their property.

The shooting in Pittsburgh ought to serve as a reality check.  No matter who we are, where we come from, or what we believe, there is no denying that hate still exists.  Likewise, anti-Semitism still exists.  Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, all still exist.  Despite what we may think, the intolerance of some people for the Jewish people has not been eradicated since the Holocaust.

“Anti-Semitism is always going to exist in our country,” said senior Bailey Lipset.

Not only is intolerance alive today, but it is also o the rise.  For our country, admitting that there is a problem is the first step to not only recovery, but change.  And unfortunately, it would be impossible to deny the presence of anti-semitism in our country in lieu of the recent events in Pittsburgh. 

Nevertheless, there is hope.  There is a need for the American people to demonstrate their capacity to embrace each others’ differences.  Our society can promote a culture of tolerance through widespread acceptance of others.  

This means speaking up to explain your welcoming ideology when you hear thoughts or words of prejudice.  This means means learning about people who are different than you.  This means initiating conversation about the real issues that exist in our society.

“I think that we can’t change everyone, and everyone’s views are different.  We can’t control how people act out,” said senior Eden Franco.  “As a community and society, we have to promote peace or tolerance for each other.”

The world is not perfect. And quite frankly, the world will never be perfect.  Sometimes, our efforts to implement change and rid society of anti-Semitism and any form of hate will go unnoticed, but sometimes we may succeed.  

Our success in reducing the presence of anti-Semitism can neither be objectively measured nor quantified.  But every day that passes without an attack on the Jewish people, verbal or physical, is a victory.

“Hate does not last forever,” said Julia Russo.

Perhaps if American culture shifts to become more tolerant of Jews, American leaders and lawmakers will follow suit.  Setting a good example is imperative when it comes to effecting societal change.  So, those who truly wish to make strives towards diminishing anti-Semitism should set an example of tolerance and peace for the country. 

“It’s all cyclical. Everything is cyclical,” said math department teacher Ms. Elizabeth Carstens.  “Politics and culture are intertwined, and that’s one of the problems right now.”

If Americans can use the recent shooting as motivation for change and admit that anti-Semitism unfortunately exists in our society, there is hope for a more welcoming and accepting America.  Otherwise, there may be more acts of intolerance ahead of us.  So, which reality will it be?