Participants on a recent tour of Israel and the West Bank, which included members of Pittsburgh's Congregation Dor Hadash, walk through Hebron. (Photo/JTA-Courtesy Shleimut)
Participants on a recent tour of Israel and the West Bank, which included members of Pittsburgh's Congregation Dor Hadash, walk through Hebron. (Photo/JTA-Courtesy Shleimut)

As Pittsburgh shooter stood trial, a congregation he attacked found parallels with Palestinians in the West Bank

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(JTA) —  About two weeks ago, the CEO of HIAS, the Jewish refugee aid group, testified in the trial of the Pittsburgh synagogue gunman — discussing how his group’s partnership with one of the building’s congregations prompted the shooter to commit the attack.

As he took the stand, some members of that congregation, Dor Hadash, were far from Pittsburgh. They were in the midst of a tour of Israel and the West Bank whose goal was to bring synagogues to meet Palestinians and Arab-Israelis as well as Jewish Israelis. But despite the distance, Dor Hadash Rabbi Amy Bardack saw a thematic parallel between the trial and the group’s time in the West Bank.

“We were before the shooting very committed to refugee rights,” Bardack said of her congregation during an interview earlier this month in the city of Bethlehem. “And after the shooting, this congregation did not shrink from its activism but leaned into it even further.”

Bardack added that the trip “was an opportunity to dip our toe into thinking about refugees in the context of this land and country.”

Eliyahu Freedman

JTA correspondent