Tree of Life rabbi shares support for Colleyville synagogue

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, head of the Pittsburgh synagogue that was targeted in a deadly antisemitic attack in 2018, expressed his support for the Beth Israel synagogue following a hostage crisis.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life synagogue walks after speaking to reporters on October 29, 2018  (photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life synagogue walks after speaking to reporters on October 29, 2018
(photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, head of the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shared his thoughts on Sunday regarding the hostage situation that unfolded the previous day at Beth Israel congregation in Colleyville, Texas:

"We awoke this morning relieved that all who were held hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville are alive and safe, and grateful for the work of law enforcement during yesterday's horrific events," he said. "And yet, alongside that relief, my heart is heavy. While everyone is physically safe, they are also forever changed."

In 2018, Myers' synagogue was the site of an attack that killed 11 worshipers in the deadliest instance of antisemitic violence in United States history. He expressed support for Beth Israel on behalf of his own congregation, which he noted had also suffered immense trauma.

"My own community knows too well the pain, trauma and lost sense of security that comes when violence forces its way in, especially into our sacred spaces," he said.

"We offer our heartfelt support and prayers of healing for those who were held hostage and everyone at Congregation Beth Israel as they begin to grapple with what has happened. We likewise hold our entire Jewish community in our thoughts, knowing all too well the sorrow and fear that such heinous attacks hold for each of us."

Myers added that Saturday's attack emphasized the importance of tolerance and coexistence amid the act of violence, especially the need to fight all forms of prejudice, including Islamophobia:

"Congregation Beth Israel's Rabbi Cytron-Walker is known for his interfaith work, and we can think of no better response to yesterday's events than to reject all forms of hate, Islamophobia among them. To do otherwise would serve only to perpetuate the fear and hate that led to yesterday’s events," he said. "We must all put our efforts toward helping to build a world in which antisemitism, Islamophobia and hate no longer play a role in any human community."

Police officers guard the Tree of Life synagogue following shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, October 27, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/JOHN ALTDORFER)Police officers guard the Tree of Life synagogue following shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, October 27, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/JOHN ALTDORFER)

Other religious leaders and organizations also expressed sympathy for the Colleyville congregation, as well as relief that they were unharmed:

Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and Imam Shamsi Ali, President of the Nusantara Foundation, made a joint statement:

"We are heartened by the demonstration of solidarity by the Islamic Center of Southlake (TX) and the local Muslim community in support of Congregation Beth Israel of Colleyville, Texas, in the midst of the recent terrorist attack that thankfully was brought to a positive resolution," the statement read.

The statement evoked the cause of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose dedication to civil rights for Black Americans is memorialized as a national holiday every January.

"In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who recognized that a people who fight for their own rights are as honorable as when they fight for the rights of all people, this Muslim-Jewish solidarity is a profound example of the strengthening of Muslim-Jewish relations in our country."

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of the North American rabbinic human rights organization T’ruah, said:

"With prayers of gratitude, we share our deep relief that those taken hostage yesterday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, are safe and free after an 11-hour ordeal. Barukh ata Hashem matir asurim. Blessed are you, God, who releases the imprisoned."