The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting at the Tree of Life

Every good little Catholic knows that come Hell or high water, every year, on the day after Halloween, you go to church. 

Yep, November 1st is All Saints Day, where we honor those who have gone before us, who – “Capital ‘S’” Saint or not – lived their lives for God.

And so today, I got to go to mass with my parents at my childhood parish.

And it was so cute – the day school was there, and all the little kindergarteners were all dressed up like a different saint. We had munchkin Mother Theresa’s, and mini JP2’s fidgeting in the front row. It was adorable.

But that’s not the point of this post.

Throughout Mass, I couldn’t help but think about our Jewish brothers and sisters who lost their lives last weekend at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg.

How terrifying it must have been to be in your house of worship – a place of peace and vulnerability and prayer – and come face to face with such abhorrent evil.

I’m going to be honest, the whole situation gave me such a pit in my stomach. Firstly, in devastation for those lives lost to such evil. To hate a person simply because of their belief system is the lowest of low, and disgusting intolerance.

But secondly, for how the media has been responding to this tragedy. Shame on you, media, for using this as an opportunity for political gain. It absolutely sickens me how some news channels have been manipulating the situation to somehow blame President Trump for this anti-Semitic hate crime. Do they not realize that his daughter, her husband and child are Jewish!? Or that he’s the only president to follow through on the commitment made several years ago to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? And shame on those “faith” leaders who are spewing hatred towards President Trump, not welcoming him to mourn for a people that he cares greatly for.

It just left me feeling disgusted that people could use this as an opportunity to further divide, instead of unite.

I was, however, encouraged by my fellow New Yorkers, who came together in such a big way immediately following the attack. They held an interfaith service, where Cardinal Timothy Dolan was one of the speakers, where people gathered to mourn and pray. It was absolutely beautiful — the line to get into the synagogue stretched around the block.

Photo: Pix11

In this city…we love one another. We work together. Do we sometimes argue? Yes. Do we disagree? Yes. But the respect for the inherent dignity of every human being and the sacredness of human life, we never, ever question.” – Cardinal Timothy Dolan

And seeing that unity and cooperation, it made me think about Jesus.


His greatest commandment: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. 

He didn’t say, love the people who look like you, speak like you, believe like you, live where you live. No. Your neighbor. Love your neighbor, whomever they may be: tall, short, gay, straight, black, white, republican, democrat, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, Buddhist – love your neighbor.

And Jesus didn’t just talk the talk. He actually did that during his short 33 years on this earth. Simply by God coming down to earth, becoming human, he united all of us humans. The human family – that is what we are. And He loved all of us.


And the incredible thing is that, God works through all of us, believers or not. God is working in our lives, because when we love, God is present. Because God is love.

If Jesus showed us one thing through His example, it is that He loved all people. Whomever He came in contact with. They left that encounter feeling loved. Even those nailing Him to the cross. All people. And that is what we are called to do.


This attack on our Jewish brothers and sisters — it is not an attack on an “other.” It’s not an attack on a “them.” It’s an attack on an “us.” Because we are all part of the human family, made in the image and likeness of God.

And the sooner we can all live like that, and stop using these tragic events to further an “us vs. them” agenda, or worse — paint a falsely accusatory narrative — the greater resilience we can have together.

My deepest prayers are with those 11 people who lost their lives that day, and their families left behind, forced to pick up the pieces.

And I want to close with an incredible quote from President Trump — that believe it or not, I actually found after I wrote the body of this post:

“The hearts of all Americans are filled with grief. … This evil, anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It’s an assault on humanity. It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-Semitism from our world.”  

Leave it to Donald to really bring it home.

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129 responses to “The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting at the Tree of Life”

  1. The American Media is incredibly sick from deep within, I tuned it all out. The evil one never stops but in the end, We Win. ✝️🙏🏻😎

  2. Well stated. It is individuals with evil or distorted hatred who concoct evil desires. Let’s get to the real root of the problem and help people instead of blaming a party or leaders for acts of one or a few.

    • Hey Matthew, thanks for your thoughts on this. You’re right – we need unity right now rather than division! Hugs and love xox

  3. You’re right! And I agree that we’re all part of the same group – “the human family.” And I also agree with the idea that we need to come together instead of putting ourselves into groups!

    – Victoria

  4. It is tragic what happened in Pittsburgh! An event like this should not be used for political gain. However I wish your president focused more on bringing people together than fearing people who are different. Too many politicians around the world use fear to gain popularity. This makes me sad and angry.

    • It really is so sad. Thanks Roland for your thoughts. Yeah we need unity for sure. Hugs and love xox

  5. There is a part in the orthodox Christian service where the deacon declares, ‘THE DOORS, THE DOORS. IN WISDOM LET US ATTEND!’

    • Pt. 2. Traditionally it was time to lock the doors to protect worshipers from just such a thing (although not a gun man) people in ancient times were persecuted and murdered for their beliefs much as they still are today. I wonder if we should go back to that tradition for safety?

      • Ohhh that makes sense and yikes that’s terrifying. I mean in this day and age it sadly isn’t a bad idea. Hugs and love xox

    • Oh wow that’s powerful. Thanks for sharing that Melissa. Let’s welcome people in! Hugs and love xox

  6. When something like this happens, I always think of what Alexander Solzhenitsyn said: The divide between good and evil runs through every human heart. People like the Pittsburgh shooter don’t need encouragement, they don’t need to be egged on; what they do is in their hearts and they’ve chosen to listen to that part of themselves. And that’s where this battle will be won; in every single one of our hearts.

    • That is such a powerful thought. Thank you Nathan, for sharing that. You’re right – no egging on or making them a “celebrity.” Hugs and love xox

  7. “And now abide faith, hope, LOVE, these three; but the GREATEST of these is LOVE.” 1 Cor. 13/13 NKJV.

    1ST post of your that I have read—loved (see previous bible verse 😏).

  8. Once again Carolyn. You have such an amazing voice and a desire to see the good in everyone.

    I do agree with you about the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, we need to start loving each other as Christ loved us. That shouldn’t be hard but we as human beings always seem to make it harder.

  9. Your words of sympathy, empathy and tolerance and your appeal for unity are life affirming. Thank you for them. May we all join together in an outpouring of love toward one another. Your remarks are grounded in the faith and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    But Jesus also taught about a fertile ground and how that ground can reap a harvest of good or evil depending on how it is fertilized. Donald Trump has made a fertile environment for division, intolerance and hatred. There has been a big uptick in hate crimes since he has taken office. Please don’t just take my word for it. The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Nation, CBS News and Slate among many other new outlets have recently published stories on this surge in hate violence. Is it just a coincidence? Is it fake news?
    Jesus warned us of wolves in sheep’s clothing. But Donald Trump does not even bother to disguise his motives or his actions. He consistently bares his fangs and preys on the most vulnerable among us…And yes, the economy is great. His tax cuts have really supercharged it. But at what cost?
    How will the Christian community answer when Jesus asks us about these times and the clamoring after this man of derision and division?

    • Oh gosh thank you so much for this thoughtful reply. Amen to that – join together in love. And thanks for the powerful food for thought. This country needs a lot of prayers all the way around. Hugs and love xox

  10. I can not comprehend why you wish to defend 45. There is a clear link between the theories he and his approved media outlets espoused to link Jewish care for refugees (Charity, yes?) and a supposed plan of infiltrating terrorists: the exact rationale and stated motivation of the murderer.

    45 stokes division, calling “Democrats” evil and a mob, and targeting public figures and laypeople alike as the othered enemy if they disagree with the policies of this Administration, meaning, any who would question him. The quote you provided was assuredly written by another, and duly read for the sake of plausible deniability.

    I am somehow beyond a sense of absolute heartache that people such as yourself, who speak of love and brotherhood and I trust really do wish to see the world a better place, would cast your lot with such a one. The links between his hateful rhetoric and scapegoating are not created out of thin air by the media for the sake of political slanting, the connections are all too real, and deeply dangerous. I am ashamed of you for putting the word “faith” in quotation marks in reference to the religious leaders who directly experienced the wages of his hateful words. Please, ask yourself truly, would you be as confident in speaking your assessment of the situation if you were face to face with one of these faith leaders or community members who are devastated by this horrible act? An utterly traumatizing loss of life and peace which they are convinced can be in part be placed at the White House doorstep of the person you defend as above reproach or blame, yet has repeatedly encouraged the anger and resentment and paranoia of his “base”?

    I implore you, realize that there can be evil in the world that would happily co-opt and corrupt your loyalties to Jesus and Church and family. This person is not a friend to any of us who want only to see our families secure, and neighborhoods at peace, and live lives of meaning and happiness. If you really would like to see us all rise and find our common joy, this avaricious and shameless figurehead must be held accountable. He does not want to see us United.

    I would humbly ask every caring person to realize that they need not even ever tell anybody else in the world they have done so, but to please realize that with just this one day of voting, everyone could be given a chance to preserve and build upon the peace and comfort that we have had the privilege to value, and is truly in such danger of slipping away. Remember the Synagogue you truly mourned over, and realize that their peace and comfort has been shattered, and know you should not wish it so upon anyone. Please consider showing in the absolute privacy of the voting booth that we can not and will not accept hateful words of fear and division as our national character. We could give ourselves a chance to sort things out, to trust one another enough to want to form a more perfect Union.

  11. This might be why there is the First Amendment. That we must have clear lines between our speech and our faith. The separation so that power can represent a fair and honest government, for all people. When Bobby Kennedy was campaigning, MLK died. It was similar, to this hear. Only, RFK didn’t offer thoughts and prayers. Trump was in Pittsburgh 13 minutes. I drink coffee, longer. His MAGA rallies are FOREVER longer. To not, see the connection to rhetoric and the rise in hate crimes not just for Jewish. Well, at least you’re okay. Right?

      • I disagree, your Charlottesville post agreed with the President and his remarks that there “were bad people on both sides.” A protestor died along with nineteen other victims of another radicalized white nationalist. Isn’t that President’s new brand for his party. Nationalists?

    • thank you so much friend. amen amen amen – He was so clear about His instruction for us: love. Hugs and love xox

  12. He is divisive and hate filled. His speeches call for violence. He takes to twitter to name call- is that really what a leader does? He blames the media for causing division but they are only reporting what he says. He lies and lies, for example the caravan of people making their way allegedly to America. He cares about no one but himself.
    He is a disgusting example of a human being never mind president. He wasn’t welcome in Pittsburgh, he was met with peaceful protest though as some people still have dignity. It’s their community and if they think his rhetoric is inspiring more hate crime is it really your place to say otherwise?

    • I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this. I just wish that people could respond to this tragedy with a spirit of unity and coming together instead of deepening division. But I respect your views, and I appreciate you joining the conversation! Hugs and love xox

      • But your president is not promoting unity. Today again talking about lethal force if someone throws a rock.
        He is not unifying your country, he is setting up factions. He has not denounced white supremacy, he does not support people’s right to protest (taking the knee) he doesn’t have any regard for women, we all heard the tape, he makes fun of disabled people, he wants to stop healthcare for the poorer in society, the institutionalised racism is not being fixed. He has pulled out of agreements, he denies climate change he is a rogue element.
        We saw a rise in hate crime over Brexit. Once leaders and politicians are condoning it, whether outright or tacitly, it gives people the excuse they need to commit these crimes.
        People shouldn’t be going to school, places of worship, concerts or nightclubs worried they are going to be shot. Terrorism is thriving everywhere but if you’re white it’s a “mental health issue” 🙄

  13. It’s sad how often religion is used when religion gets twisted into an excuse for hate. Regardless of one’s faith, it should be about love, not hate.

    • I agree — love not hate. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this tragic issue. Hugs and love xox

  14. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this deeply disturbing event. It is regrettable that some of your commenters feel the need to veer into politics. I wish those who are against name-calling and division could avoid engaging in those same behaviors when it comes to the President.

    • Thank you JP – deeply disturbing indeed. Yeah, I pray that emotions are just running high at the moment, and that we can all begin to try to set aside differences and seek to understand and come together. Amen. so glad you stopped by. big hugs to you xo

  15. Good morning, sister. I realize I do not know your name. May I please know your name? Your writing has moved me several times, and I found myself here today, back at the horror in Pittsburgh. I live in PA, not close but close enough. As you eloquently pointed out, it was an attack on all of us. My heart joins you in prayers lifting the families of the eleven and the whole community of believers there, may their faith be stronger not ever shaken. Thank you for this post. Sharing on Twitter where I know many pray.

    • Hi there Julie! It’s Caralyn 🙂 thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this tragic and devastating event. Yes – I will join you in prayer for your community. thank you for passing this along. Hugs and love xox

  16. Isn’t it sad what our media in this country has become. The National Enquirer has become more reliable…and that says a lot! If only they could have also shown the other side. There is a video posted on Facebook by Conservative Review and others of President Trump and his family being thanked for coming to Pittsburgh. Oh these people dividing us is so very sad. That’s why we need to concentrate on God for our guidance, especially in this day and time. This is a good time for Christians to step up and do work!

    • It really is so so sad. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this tough issue. amen! step up and do work! Hugs and love xox

  17. From Mathew 5- “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”

    Anger and hate are murder writ small. They are the seeds of what happened at the synagogue.

    From 1 John 4 – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.”

    If anger and hate are the seeds of violence, fear is their seed. The only antidote is love.

    How sad that the victims of this horror and their sympathizers lash out at love if it doesn’t come from an “approved” source. *sigh*

    Thank you for again writing on a hard topic.

    • Hi Jeff, thank you for your words of wisdom. you’re so right – the ONLY antidote is love. We need so much more of that. We need it in our lives, in our media, in our entertainment, in our school curriculums, in our homes, on our tv — we need it stat. such great food for thought here. Hugs and love xox

  18. It was so nice to see these interfaith services going on everywhere. We might not have unity of belief (on several levels), but we can surely practice community and decency. Blessings.

    • it really was so encouraging in a deeply tragic time. thank you Nora, for stopping by and for sharing this thoughtful response. Hugs and love xox

  19. I agree with Nichole. The US has a long history of racism, bigotry and religious intolerance. The Know Nothings (an apt name for the Neo Nazis and white supremacists of today) and the KKK were and are anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant as well as anti-black. Most of the time these people stay hidden. That is until someone comes along to given them a sense of legitimacy and power, enabling them to crawl out of the rocks under which they live. It’s not a question of political gain; it’s a question of combating political evil. We have a president who with his manipulative tweets encourages evil and a Fox News, like the supermarket tabloids that Murdock also owns, that caters to the ignorant. As long as they carry the influence they now have, there will be more killings. It’s only a matter of time until the killings spread to other groups that these people hate. Remember, the Nazis sent Catholics to concentration camps to die, not just Jews. Remember the Catholic theologian, Bronhoffer? Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

  20. Yes. Amen. Though I do think it’s a mistake to pay much attention to this president or defend him. He is a divider and his messages have been mixed. Encouraging violence and the like.

    We certainly must stand against all anti-Semitism. It is sadly rampant in white nationalist circles in conspiracy theories. And the gospel alone will make the needed impact in people’s lives, even in Washington if we can believe that. America needs it for sure. When it’s all said and done, all else is dust in the wind. When everything is gone: Christ and his kingdom will stand.

    • Thank you Ted, for sharing your thoughts on this difficult topic. You’re right – Christ and His kingdom alone will stand. big hugs to you xox

  21. Unfortunately the president has taken every opportunity to divide the country. As the head of state he must shoulder the responsibility and share the burden of his words and actions. From the time of Ronald Reagan down to present time, never saw any other president preaching “they” vs “us” like the current president.
    Words have power.

    • Words definitely have power. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this tragic event. Hugs and love xox

  22. I’m sorry but I completely disagree. The President is not the victim here. He wants you to think that. In addition to lying he has cast himself as a Nationalist. He spins garbage from the far extreme right, which is so dangerous.
    That’s something we must point to. It is essential. Yes Nationalism produces hate.
    The mainstream media simply reports on the wrong things he says, the wrong things he does, which takes place every single day.
    You have said yourself he’s incredibly divisive. The media saying that is correct, it’s the right thing to do – accurate reporting.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this tragic event. To be completely clear: I do not think that Trump is the victim here. I’m sorry that you picked that up from my piece. That was not at all the point of this post and invite you reassess why I wrote the post 🙂 thanks! I appreciate you joining the convo and sharing your thoughts. Hugs and love xox

  23. Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

    Why can’t men and women see how much Jesus loved them?

  24. Good post as always.

    About the media pushing blame. I think its human nature to push the blame on to other people.

    What can we do to stop these terrible shootings. We need to show more love in our lives, we must connect with other religions and races.

    Pushing out of our comfort zones.

    Events like this divide and i feel that we must do all that we can to connect.

    God is not happy with the world today. Look at all the natural disasters, most of which are not even shown on the media.

    There is record floods, fires, earthquakes and storms all over the world. Animals are getting wiped out each day as they can not adapt to the changes to our weather.

    The planet is sick and that sickness is starting to affect people mentally.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this tragic event. Amen – let’s show more love 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  25. Thank you for being a voice of wisdom and love in a world thriving on foolish hate. This was indeed an attack on “us”, not them or others.

    • Thank you Dan, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this tough issue. Yes. We need love now more than ever. Hugs and love xox

  26. Not to be critical, I find your views controversial and bias. Not once I heard you stand up for the negative and violent views of the leader of the freedom world. Maybe one should get in political science first before dabbling in views that are distorted at best.

    • Hi Tink, I’m sorry you feel that I am controversial and my views distorted. I am open to having a respectful dialogue. Hugs and love xox

  27. Yeah Caralyn, I love how you stand on “The Rock”. I took the liberty and reposted on my site. Thanks for your Christian encouragement.

  28. You handled a difficult situation with great care and eloquence. Also, let me applaud the tactful way you handled the few commenters who chose to spew their divisiveness into the dialogue. Thank you for writing about this tragedy and its aftermath. You’re challenging me to ask myself how I would write about the shooting and response in my blog. The Pittsburgh shooting is an assault on all of us, and our President did a wonderful job of consoling the nation. Of course, as you stated in your article, only the Great Healer, Jesus Christ, can bring us together. Good job, and thank you! /WP

    • Thank you so much Ward. I appreciate your encouragement. Such a tragic tragic situation. We need to come together as a nation and as human people. Christ can do that!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  29. Hey buddy! I haven’t spoken to you in over 1 year. But I feel like I must let you know that I may be coming back not for the reasons that you think you see Carolyn if that is your real name hahaha just kidding. tomorrow I will be getting new legs. Not really but I will getting braces . Due to the fact that I visit Ohio often I’ve decided to put the emblem of Ohio State on my braces. I want said the American flag on thembut then they had to readjust something cuz my feet got too big and they were going to break my ankles because of the size. Now why would I need braces because I have funny feet. I once had a Blog titled nerd for news. Perhaps you remember it as I debated you quite often , me sorry. Anyway I decided to document my defining moments in braces because I have my condition known as cerebral palsy look it up if you don’t know what that is. Furthermore you might like to know who Abby Nicole Curran is. She and I have the same feet. And I don’t just say that cuz she’s cute. So what I decided to do is document a year in braces. I’m going to document my journey in braces for one year under the I’m going the blog title from funny feet to beautiful feet a journey of 1000 miles with a disability.

    Love ys bud. after all the good book says love your neighbor as yourself. And since I’m Canadian and you’re American I can’t see any other way of doing things. Have a splendid night if not too much sugar because then you won’t be able to sleep. Hahaha I haven’t lost an ounce of humor

  30. I live two blocks away from a synagogue, always love seeing Jewish families go to worship. Little girls dressed like in Little House On A Prairie. Beyond cute, little black-haired beauties at pre-school age. Who could want to hurt innocent people? I cringe when I think of the St James Church Massacre a few decades ago, just Google it. Communist terrorists attacking defenseless people in a church.

    Donald Trump saved Christianity from political extinction. The critics are showing their anti-Christ colours. It is that simple. But the people want Barabbas freed, of course.

  31. It’s a terrible tragedy and it’s such a shame that up to today people are killed out of hatred. We can talk about progress all we want, but human nature hasn’t changed at all since the beginning of times. And the media taking advantage of the death of so many people to make political claims is deplorable. Something similar happened in Spain recently. There was a ceremony in remembrance of the killed during the islamic terrorist attacks in Barcelona last year, and pro-independence Catalan politicians along with the media channels they control twisted it to speak about their secessionist aspirations.

    • It really is tragic. Heart wrenching. I hate the way the media always finds a way to take even the most sacred and off limits topics and make them political. It’s not right. Hugs and love xox

  32. Thanks lovely. I live in Pittsburgh. I was in shock at first. How could this happen where I live?! It was like a nightmare. Then the grief hit me. I couldn’t let it go. Why did God allow such a sick person do something so horrible? I was mad. Not at God. But at what we have become. Thankfully the Lord has used this hate crime to bring all of us together. Good bless those who have fallen or lost a loved one. hi


    • Hi Debra. Oh gosh I’m so sorry and my heart breaks for your hurting city. My prayers are with you and your neighbors. Hugs and love xox

  33. It’s so easy to think the problem is “those people”, when in fact we are all responsible for the state of our own hearts & minds. Good reminder- love people because they are people first.

    • Hey friend, thank you for taking the time to read. Perhaps that’s true. I do appreciate your readership. Hugs and love xox

  34. I was raised Jewish (conservative strain (well the temple is), hebrew school 4 days a week) so we always got a major speech (ahem, admonition) about Halloween in temple before that day (and about all saints day which obviously was a no no) but my parents are quite liberal so the religion was more of a ‘show’ thing (and truth be told being jewish has a very cultural element to it compared to other religions I think), so I don’t consider myself religious at all these days (do I use the cliche “spiritual” without checking my chakras? lol), I used to be one of those cynical NJ/NY religion haters (ala bill maher etc) “oh those religious types are so dumb” but these days I appreciate believers (and perhaps I am a tad jealous as I sure would love to have answers, they just don’t fit me), the response to the tragedy says it all…(as you said) believers in jesus are not the problem, I tell people all the time if everyone followed the teachings of jesus the world truly would be a better place, I just don’t believe he is the son of god in the scheme of things in the universe (the vastness, to me it is hubris, but that’s ok, I am not saying he is not, I am at semi peace not having the answers to the greatest question of our existence). but I can be happy with those who believe, they are far more in line with my logic, heart and mind than those who mock, they may have the louder voices, but something about truth levels walls into fields, thanks for the inspiration – for this reaction. no religion needs this level of hate leveled against it, but perhaps the jews are best prepared, it has been going on for thousands of years after all, europe is far worse off, sadly, but the jews (we) survive, even if I am not religious in any sense I identify as jewish (I am also adopted but man haven’t I rambled on too long ?) … the time is coming for giving thanks, for all things, the older I get, the more it means.

    • Hi David, thank you so much for sharing your story and for sharing your thoughts on this tragedy. I don’t think you rambled at all! I really appreciate reading your words 🙂 Hugs and love xox

      • Thanks, I think it is important to have real communication/discussion, not the BS we hear about “conversations”. Unfortunately most of my Jewish family is left leaning and does not see that the real danger is on the left (not that there is not far right racist/nazis, they exist however small), the democrat party of JFK is certainly no more… I do not want to see more tragedies bring this out but I see no other course. but either way god bless what ever god that is, and I mean that in the most positive means, I am someone who will debate everyone but will love almost all. not sure where that leaves me but that is me after all. thanks again for the small forum, I appreciate it.

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