Community gathers to combat hate, spread message of unity after Antisemitic incident

PITTSBURGH — Jewish and non-Jewish community members came together in Shelburne Park Saturday night to unite people and erase the hate that filled the park just a few days ago.

The disturbing, Antisemitic images are now cleaned up and gone but the work to combat the hate continues.

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“The one way to get rid of darkness is by adding in light,” said Rabbi Yitzchak Goldwasser, the director of Chabad of Greenfield.

The community gathered to spread the message of unity and hope after neighbors woke up to a much different message on Halloween.

“What happened in the park was a clear attempt to intimate and stoke fear not just in the Jewish community, but this entire community in Squirrel Hill,” said Julie Paris, the mid-Atlantic regional director of Stand With Us.

On Tuesday, Oct. 31, the park’s gazebo, sidewalks and even some cars and homes were spray painted with hate speech against Jewish people and others. Some of the messages read, “Death to America” and “I stand with Gaza.”

Just days before vandals targeted the Squirrel Hill park, Taylor Allderdice High School and lawn signs were defaced with more hate-fueled messages.

“We are not going to be let down by what’s happened,” Rabbi Goldwasser said. “It’s only going to strengthen us, make us stronger and more committed to our mission.”

Since the war between Israel and Hamas ramped up, hate crimes have spiked here and across the country. Some say the anger spilling over here is misdirected.

“People are under extreme amount of tension. People have a lot of unease, and there’s a lot of anxiety in our community,” said Allan Tissenbaum of Mount Lebanon.

As tensions rise in the Middle East, those gathered at the park are praying for peace overseas and right here at home.

“Never has tragedy or evil stopped the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Goldwasser.

Rabbi Goldwasser is asking for continued prayers for those still being held hostage in Gaza.

Pittsburgh police, meantime, are still looking for those responsible for the park vandalism.

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