Synagogue Shooting: Petoskey Man Reflects on Jewish Faith, the Tragedy and Time Spent in Squirrel Hill

The deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh has sent shock waves across America.

“Most members of the Jewish community, their first reaction is anger and sadness mixed in with that. You’d also hear a lot of people say they’re surprised, how not surprised they are,” Mark Schwartz, said.

On Monday, 9&10 News spoke with Mark Schwartz a member of Temple B’nai Israel of Petoskey.

“I think people who know the history of anti-Semitism in the world and in America already have in the back of their mind that something like this could happen,” Schwartz, said.

For Schwartz, the reality of Saturday’s tragedy hit even closer to home.

“I lived in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the Tree of Life Synagogue is located,” Schwartz, added.

Before moving to Northern Michigan, he owned a bakery in the vibrant Jewish neighborhood.

“I took my daughter to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood a couple years ago and she was struck by how amazing it was to go into the Jewish deli that we went to and the Jewish grocery [store],” he explained.

“In the wake of the shooting she said ‘I guess the place is going to be different now.’ We don’t want the place to be different now,” he added.

Schwartz says it shouldn’t change their way of life, but we as a country need to find a way to address both anti-Semitism and violence.

“We are not just Jews we are Jewish-Americans and I think about the American character being one that is welcoming and when you hear something like that you just want to wrap everyone in your arms, not just Jewish families, your whole family, and say we are in this together,” Schwartz, said.

And together he says the time, at least right now, is for grieving.

“I think we need to work on what we feel first and people need to experience their grief and their sorrow and anger, and then work on what we do,” he explained.