Just two months ago, tragedy struck when a gunman opened fire and killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
According to police, Robert Bowers opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27.
In November, Bowers claimed not guilty to all 44 charges he faces in early November.
Even though the tragedy occurred in Pittsburgh, tremors were still felt in the Ohio Valley. Standard Sabbath morning scripture study was happening at Temple Shalom in Wheeling, when Rabbi Joshua Lief got a text message from his sister marking herself safe in the fatal shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
“And then, people’s phones started buzzing with the news, and then the temple phone began ringing and everyone was well aware of it within minutes of it happening,” said Lief.
“There’s no question this is the definition of a hate crime. It’s no accident that they went on Saturday morning, they wanted to kill people while they were at services, just as we were here in Wheeling,” he said.
Most recently, federal prosecutors say they are still deciding whether they will seek the death penalty against the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.
They will review the case details and make a decision when the review process is complete. The death penalty review was mentioned earlier this month during a status conference in the case against Bowers. The process is expected to last several months.