Statement on the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue Tragedy

We were shocked and saddened by the tragic shooting on October 27, the Jewish Sabbath, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Within a matter of minutes, the cowardly perpetrator had killed 11 people and wounded several others, including law enforcement personnel who responded to the scene.

This brazen act of anti-Semitic terror was a poignant reminder that Nazi hate and racism didn’t pass away at the end of World War II. Hitler’s philosophy of blaming the Jewish people for the world’s ills, and proposing a “final solution” for the “Jewish problem,” is alive and well today. Anti-Semitism didn’t die with Hitler because its ultimate source is Satan himself. The devil hates the Jewish people because God’s plan for the world revolves around the promises He made to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:7-21.

As we said over the weekend on Facebook (, one of the ironies of this tragedy is that the emergency room at Allegheny General Hospital, where the wounded shooter was rushed for treatment, is staffed by Jewish doctors and nurses. According to Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, hospital chief operations officer, they worked diligently to save his life. But, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Jewish physicians save the lives of their sworn enemies—they do it in Israel every day.

Many of our friends have been asking how they can help. We have consulted with ministry colleagues in Pittsburgh and they say that numerous Jewish charities have “boots on the ground” in Pittsburgh and are providing financial assistance for the victims’ medical and funeral costs. If any of our people would like to contribute, they can send us a check (designated for “Pittsburgh”) and we’ll make sure it gets to where it’s most needed. However, we’re being told that the best way we can help right now is by (1) faithfully and boldly speaking out against anti-Semitism, (2) continuing to share the Good News of Yeshua with Jewish people, and (3) praying for the victims’ families and for the Jewish community in general. Sometimes we underestimate the power of prayer to help in tragic situations like this, but the Bible says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b).

This Aramaic Jewish “Mourner's Kaddish” is recited on each Sabbath for a year after the death of a loved one:

May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days, and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel, swiftly and soon. Amen.
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever. Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One,
Blessed is He beyond any blessing and song, praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Amen.
May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life upon us and upon all Israel. Amen.
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel. Amen.

Notice how this ancient blessing directs our attention away from our own sorrows and heartaches and toward our God. There is great wisdom in this approach when tragedy strikes. The Bible reminds us, He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).

Above all, let’s remember that an attack on Jewish people anywhere in the world is an attack on all of us who love God and His earthly People Israel (Psalm 122:6-9)!

Gary Hedrick, Pres./CEO
CJF Ministries
San Antonio, Texas