Pennsylvania honors victims of Pittsburgh terror attack

Legislation establishes April 10 as 'Stronger Than Hate Day'

HARRISBURG, April 10 – Today the Pennsylvania legislature held a rare joint legislative session to honor the victims of the October terror attack at the Tree of Life building.

Members of the synagogue’s Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, Dor Hadash and New Light congregations, as well as family members of the victims, joined state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, in attending the event, as did numerous public officials from across the state, including Gov. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Frankel, who grew up in and represents Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where the attack occurred, addressed the joint session.

During his remarks, Frankel memorialized the victims of the terror attack: Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Mel Wax and Irv Younger, each of whom were members of the Squirrel Hill community.

He also noted the rising dangers of hate speech, which the attacker had spent hours immersed in online in the weeks leading up to the attack. The FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center have also documented increases in hate group activity and anti-Semitic attacks and other hate crimes in the United States.

“Hate speech dehumanizes whole groups of people for who they are or what they believe,” Frankel said. “Repeated often enough, ignored often enough and rationalized often enough, these words create an environment in which atrocities are possible, maybe even inevitable.

“This phenomenon has cost us dearly in my community.”

Speaking as the representative of the community where the attack occurred, Frankel said the attack was met with “unfathomable bravery, empathy and love within our community and far beyond it,” and praised the actions of first responders, the faith community and Pittsburgh in responding to the tragedy.

During the joint session the Pennsylvania House and Senate both voted unanimously to enact a resolution by Frankel establishing April 10 as “Stronger Than Hate Day.” The day honors the individuals who lost their lives, the first responders and others affected by what was the largest anti-Semitic attack in the history the United States.

Frankel also called on elected officials to be a shield “against these very dark forces of hatred and violence, by embracing the diversity of our communities and promoting tolerance, compassion and acts of loving kindness.”