United in Tragedy, Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Is Raising Money for the Christchurch Victims

From across the world, help from a club “that no one wants to be a part of.”

A woman places a candle near Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.Carl Court/Getty Images

For members of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, the mosque shootings that killed at least 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand felt all too familiar. After hearing about the shooting last Friday, the congregation quickly began raising funds for the New Zealand victims and their families.

“We’re unfortunately part of a club that nobody wants to be a part of, and we wanted to reach out to New Zealand in the same way everyone reached out to us,” Sam Schachner, Tree of Life president, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The synagogue lost 11 of its own members after a shooting last October.

“To the families going through the most difficult moments in your lives: the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is with you,” reads the congregation’s GoFundMe page, which hopes to raise $100,000. “Show them that love is stronger than [hate].”

In New Zealand, groups across the country have shown an outpouring of support by performing the haka, a Maori dance, to commemorate and pay respect to the victims. (One particularly emotional video is here). And some New Zealanders even turned in their semi-automatic weapons to authorities. “This is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made,” said one gun-owner who had owned a firearm for 31 years.

Jacinda Ardern, the nation’s prime minister, has proved a model of compassion and efficiency, showing up before the Muslim community in a hijab as a sign of respect and earning praise worldwide. “She symbolically covers her head when she goes to a home for condolences; she boldly underlines her respect and solidarity,” wrote Turkish lawmaker Cihangir Islam. “How thirsty we have become for justice and mercy in state administration.”

“We represent diversity, kindness, compassion,” Ardern said Friday. “A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”

Recharge is a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. Sign up at the bottom of the story.

  • He didn’t need to cheat. Dylan Chidick was determined to get into college on his own. Chidick, who used to be homeless, has been accepted to 17 colleges so far—and is aghast at the recent college admissions scandal in which parents paid test-takers and falsified claims about their children’s athletic achievements. “I think it is unfair that people could just buy their way in,” said Chidick, who will be the first in his family to go to college. Last Thursday, he said a benefactor would cover his college costs after being inspired by his story. (New York Times)
  • Amazing dogs among us. Thanks to the hashtag #uglydogs, a rookie musher raised more than $60,000 for schools along the route of the famed Iditarod in Alaska, one of the most famous dogsled races of the year. Elsewhere, a stray dog named Mera tagged along for three weeks with mountain climbers in Nepal and ended up scaling a 24,000-foot Himalayan peak. The BBC reported the dog had enough energy for a romp at the top. Thanks to Recharge readers Laurie Putnam and Dwayne Fuhlhage for the tips. (NBC News)
  • Truth to power. Ireland’s first openly gay prime minister, Leo Varadkar, used a St. Patrick’s Day ceremony with Vice President Mike Pence to underline the importance of inclusion. At Pence’s home in Washington, Varadkar introduced Pence to his boyfriend, Dr. Matthew Barrett. “I lived in a country where, if I tried to be myself at the time, it would’ve ended up breaking laws. But today that has all changed,” Varadkar said at a press conference. “I stand here, leader of my country, flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender, or religious beliefs. And I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible.” (NowThis News)
  • A fluttering boom. They’re black and orange. They’re 2 to 3 inches wide. And they’re back. In the midst of a butterfly crisis in California, painted lady butterflies are migrating across the state in tremendous numbers. Scientists say the last time there were so many of the butterflies was in 2005, when a billion of the flighted wonders traveled over interstates and deserts. James Danoff-Burg was biking when he encountered a pack of the butterflies earlier this month. “They were flying parallel to me, just bobbing along as I rode past the date palms,” he said. “It was absolutely magical. I felt like a Disney princess.” (Los Angeles Times)
More MotherJones reporting on Recharge

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.