“I’m not sure what was resolved”: Former ‘Tree of Life’ Rabbi talks response to the October shooting

Former ‘Tree of Life’ Rabbi on the October shooting

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Huntsville Rabbi said he “is not optimistic” about the nation’s response to a recent mass shooting.

Stephen Listfield is a former Rabbi of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

In late October, his old congregation lost 11 members to a mass shooting (five he knew personally). Six more were injured, including four police officers.

Listfield is now semi-retired in Atlanta, but frequently travels to Huntsville to teach and worship.

Saturday, WAFF 48 News asked Listfield how he feels his Jewish community has recovered, and if the country has responded appropriately to the tragedy.

He described the attack as “disorienting, maddening, shattering,” and as something his former friends and congregants are still dealing with.

He said the nation came together after the shooting, but didn’t address its causes.

“You know people came, the synagogues were swelled to the rafters. It was healing, but not resolving. I’m not sure what was resolved,” he said.

He cited inaction on gun control, a lack of mental health resources and the nature of today’s political rhetoric as causes for concern and frustration in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Listfield said interfaith discussions have improved “a little bit,” but those conversations aren’t addressing the root cause either.

“A little bit, it might be too soon to know what is really happening. I think a little bit, and it’s all to the good of course. What I’m saying, I’m not meeting to deflect the question, what I’m talking about is the people I’ve met over the years in interfaith work, it’s wonderful but they’re not the people who need it so much,” he said.

Listfield said he doesn’t have the answers, but more needs to be done to integrate or help “loners” who may be moved to do something similar.

Despite the persisting challenges, he said he was “uplifted” by the courage of the Pittsburgh police and the outpouring of support that immediately followed.

He said in other parts of the world, the governmental response to anti-Semitic attacks isn’t inaction, it’s encouragement.

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