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American Judaism after the Tree of Life

Has the worst anti-Semitic attack in America’s history exposed the divisions among American Jews?

It was the response of Jewish organisations that was possibly most telling the day after last year's Tree of Life shooting. President Trump wasn’t welcome in Pittsburgh unless, that is, he denounced the language of white nationalism.

The attack on the synagogue, according to The Washington Post, ‘wasn’t unimaginable but inevitable’, and anecdotally the build-up of anti-Semitic attacks in the US may just back that up. The Anti-Defamation League logged a 57 percent rise in incidents in 2017.

The Tree of Life synagogue sits in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh, and has been described as an urban shtetl; we meet the Jews who share this small section of the city.

David McGuire asks Rabbi Jeffrey Myers how the shooting of 11 of its members affected the Squirrel Hill community.

Under the provocative #jewishresistance, liberal Jews have challenged other Jews to stand up for their faith, but the reality is that they aren’t united, they are split religiously and politically. The accusation is that Orthodox and Conservative Jews are remaining silent when it comes to the rise of anti-Semitic language.

Jews across the USA say they now feel as threatened as they have done for many years, and as they face external intimidation, there is a growing gap between the two sides of the faith in the USA.

Producer and Presenter: David McGuire
Picture: A shop front in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, USA. Credit BBC

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27 minutes