The massacre at the Tree of Life building was “one of those days in America that make zero sense when you hear about it, but then you remember that days like these have become more common,” said W. Kamau Bell as he introduced a segment on an episode of his CNN show, the “United Shades of America,” Sunday, July 19.
The comedian-turned-commentator interviewed Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers on the season six premiere of the program, titled “Where Do We Even Start with White Supremacy.” Myers appeared alongside Wasi Mohamed, the former executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
“The Muslim community modeled how to behave at a time of trauma in the Jewish community,” Myers said in opening the segment.
The Conservative rabbi went on to acknowledge the support from the Islamic Center, including an offer to pay for the funerals of those murdered in the attack, as well as the creation of a GoFundMe page, which raised more than $250,000.
“Six months later we returned the love and kindness,” Myers explained, noting that the Pittsburgh Jewish community, through GoFundMe pages created by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Tree of Life, raised over $650,000 for the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand, after two consecutive mosque attacks on March 15, 2019.
“Horror drew us together, but that’s not what unites us,” Myers said.
Bell and Myers walked the sidewalk in front of the Tree of Life building. Myers noted that he hadn’t been to the synagogue in about three weeks, explaining: “Sometimes the mood is such that you can be having a great day and something reminds you of the events of Oct. 27, and there are times I just can’t drive by here. I’ll detour. The visual reminder sometimes of the façade is too much.”
Remembering the 11 people murdered in the building, Myers said “the answer to people dying because they were Jewish is to do even more Jewish.”
Summer Lee, Pennsylvania state representative for the 34th District, local Pittsburgh activist Jasiri X and 1Hood Media were also featured on the program.
“United Shades of America” follows Bell as he explores communities across America to understand the unique challenges they face. PJC
— David Rullo