Pittsburgh synagogue raises money for New Zealand victims

Tree of Life Synagogue, targeted by shooting attack in October, raises more than $40,000 for victims of mosque massacres in Christchurch.

Ben Ariel ,

Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh
Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh
Alexi Rosenfeld

The Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh is paying it forward and has raised more than $40,000 to support the victims and their families of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, JTA reported on Wednesday.

“We feel compelled to come to the aid of those communities, just as our Jewish community was so compassionately supported only a few short months ago by people around the world of many faiths,” the synagogue wrote on its GoFundMe page that set up following the massacre.

“We recall with love the immediate, overwhelming support Tree of Life received from our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh,” it added.

The funds will be transferred to an organization authorized to provide support to the Christchurch families and community, according to the synagogue. Until then, the money will be held by the Direct Impact Fund.

50 Muslim worshipers were killed and at least others were 20 injured in shootings at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques last Friday.

The Tree of Life Synagogue was targeted by a shooting attack last October in which 11 worshippers were murdered by a lone gunman. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States.

The gunman, Robert Bowers, was armed with an AR-15 and three handguns and allegedly yelled “I want to kill all Jews” during the attack.

He was indicted on 44 counts at the end of October and later pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in a federal courtroom.

In January, a federal grand jury added 19 charges to the 44 counts previously levied against Bowers. 13 of the new counts are hate crime violations and the others accuse him of obstructing religious beliefs and discharging a firearm during crimes of violence.

Bowers pleaded not guilty to the new hate crimes charges as well.

Earlier this month it was announced that more than $6.3 million had been raised for the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting attack through a fund for their benefit set up by the local Jewish federation.