Houston Jewish community, law enforcement responds to Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

The shooting in Pittsburgh, Pa. hits home for a Houston man.

Joel Dinkin is the chief executive officer of the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center in southwest Houston. For Dinkin, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was home for part of his life and for some in his family, it still is.

When Dinkin heard the news, he immediately checked on his father who usually attends Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

"He normally goes," described Dinkin. "This morning, he said, when I talked to him a couple of hours ago, he said he did not sleep well last night and just did not feel like getting up and going.”

Dinkin explained that in 2015, the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center decided to have an armed officer on-site when it is open. Active shooter drills are also conducted at the center annually.

The center will meet with other Jewish organizations to review safety protocols again.

"You just can’t take anything for granted and you just have to put the challenges in perspective that we face because there’s a tremendous amount of hatred out there right now," added Dinkin.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that deputies are out in force checking on synagogues and other places of worship.

"It’s a sad day where no place is sacred these days,” Sheriff Gonzalez told FOX 26 News. He also said that because anti-Semitic violence is on the rise in the U.S., he is seeking everyone’s help.

"It’s best to always assume that you always have to be on alert and be watchful of your surroundings and ready to call 911 and report something suspicious," concluded Gonzalez.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston said it is planning to host a vigil and it could be as early as Sunday evening.

The federation and the community center released the following joint statement:

The shooting in Pittsburgh during Shabbat services this morning displayed the worst of humanity and reminds us that anti-Semitic sentiments are still prevalent in our society.  

We are horrified and saddened by the senseless, violent atrocity that targeted innocent people practicing their faith in their spiritual home. We stand in solidarity with an outraged world who condemn this and all terrorist attacks. 

We know that the Pittsburgh Jewish community will have difficult days ahead. We stand with them and will provide any support we can.  

Here in Houston, we will gather with other Jewish institutions to review security protocols and do all that we can to provide safety and security to members of our community.

Avital Ingber, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, released the following statement on Sunday: 

The anti-Semitic terroristic attack on Pittsburgh’s Jewish community is sickening. We pray for those who lost their lives this Shabbat morning and for an end to attacks on the Jewish people. The Houston Jewish community stands with Pittsburgh as they work to heal from this terrible tragedy.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released the following statement on Sunday regarding the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh:

The City of Houston will not tolerate hate and violence against any group no matter who the perpetrator(s) may be. The fatal shooting of Jews and law enforcement officers must be condemned by all of us.”

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the tragedy that unfolded at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh today.

Violence in any form, whether it be individuals, a particular religious group, or religious space is unacceptable. There is truly no place for hate. 

Chief Art Acevedo, Houston Police, and our partner law enforcement groups are monitoring synagogues around our city. 

In this city, this administration will continue to seek ways to reduce gun violence in any form. 

I will continue to work with my Commission on Gun Violence to further implement policies that will bring safety to every community in Houston.