The Act of Terrorism at Tree of Life Synagogue

In a horrific act of terror that has reverberated around the nation and the world, an armed man entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during Shabbat services this past weekend.  According to media reports, the gunman murdered 11 worshipers; six others were injured, including four police officers.  The attack is believed to be the single deadliest attack on people of Jewish faith in United States history.

As a University community founded in faith, we join with our Jewish sisters and brothers in mourning the senseless loss of life caused by this savage act of violence.  The United States has historically been viewed as a nation devoted to preserving and protecting the rights of people to worship according to their own religious beliefs and customs.  This act of hatred represents an assault on the very freedoms, enshrined in our Constitution, upon which this nation was founded.  It shakes all those who have come to expect that they ought to be able to worship freely, and without fear of violence based on religion, to the very core. 

In the wake of this tragedy, I, together with the Office of Mission and Ministry, invite you to stand in prayerful solidarity with our Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein, and members of the Gonzaga Jewish community tomorrow, October 30 at 12:15 p.m. in the Hemmingson Rotunda.  A short memorial service will take place, followed by a moment of silence to remember the victims. This is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues and peers; I invite your prayerful presence tomorrow.

Please pray for an end to hate-filled violence, and that people of goodwill everywhere work to end acts of discrimination and injustice.  I pray in thanksgiving for those in law enforcement who—like those involved in this situation—work every day to make our communities safe.  Let us keep all those who have been affected by the terrible events of this weekend, including those in our own community, in your thoughts and prayers.

Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.
President, Gonzaga University
October 29, 2018


For those students and colleagues who are in need of assistance, the following resources are available for support:

University Ministry
(509) 313-4242

GU Jewish Community
Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein

Center for Cura Personalis
(509) 313-2227

Health & Counseling Services
(509) 313-4052

Online Resources:
An online wellness toolbox is available with various resources, including a section on grief:

Regional Behavioral Health Crisis Line:
Call the 24/7 Regional Behavioral Health Crisis Line at 1-877-266-1818 (toll free number) for assistance.  This 24-hour resource is available to provide a supportive listener, immediate help for individuals in crisis, and connection to community resources.

“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by.  –Psalm 57:1