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Can a synagogue feel open with locked doors? Rabbis reflect on Pittsburgh, three years later

In a sense, the Jewish communal reactions to the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the coronavirus pandemic were diametric opposites.

After Robert Bowers shot and killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018, American Jews were urged to show up at services in droves the following Shabbat to display solidarity with the victims and to make clear that their rituals and way of life would not be threatened. Conversely, in the early stages of COVID-19, health concerns meant that they were forced to stay home as most in-person prayer was put on hold.

Today, as three years have passed since the Pittsburgh attack and as synagogues navigate the complexities of reopening, these seemingly unrelated events raise the same question: How can synagogues balance necessary precautions with a welcoming approach?

Read More: JNS