Pittsburgh sports teams honor Jewish massacre victims

The Pittsburgh Steelers held a moment of silence before the start of Sunday’s game to honor the Jews who died in the anti-Semitic attack the day before.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Pittsburgh’s sports teams showed a united front in condemning the Saturday morning attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 dead.

Its three major sports teams – the NFL’s Steelers, MLB’s Pirates, and NHL’s Penguins – all expressed support for the victims. The synagogue is located near sports venues used by the three franchises.

Before their game against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Steelers president Art Rooney II announced that there would be “a moment of silence and prayer” in honor of those murdered.

“On behalf of the entire Steelers organization, we offer our support and condolences to the families of the attack on peaceful citizens worshiping at The Tree of Life Synagogue. Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community,” his statement read.

The team’s logo was also reworked on social media to have a Star of David take the place of the top-most diamond, with the words “Stronger than Hate” added in. Fans in the stands held signs with that picture, as well as those saying “Pittsburgh Strong.”

That echoed the message sent by Boston’s baseball team after a terrorist-set bomb killed three spectators and injured hundreds at the Boston Marathon in 2013.

The Penguins also modified their logo to show their iconic bird skating on a Star of David, with the same “Stronger than Hate” message. The hockey club will also show its support in a more material way, cancelling its Halloween-themed game on Tuesday and  instead encouraging its fans to make donations at the gate that night to help the victims’ families, or contribute online.

The team is also hosting a blood drive at its arena on Monday in response to the shooting.

The Pirates, whose baseball season ended, tweeted a message of support as well.

“Our hearts break at the news of this morning’s tragedy in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this horrible event.”