Rabbi of Pittsburgh Congregation Attacked in Mass Shooting Is Against Death Penalty for The Gunman

Rabbi Perlman is against the death penalty

Last October witnessed one of the deadliest strikes against Jews in U.S. history. Alleged shooter Robert Bowers opened fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Members of three different congregations were assembled there and New Light was one of them.

Out of the 11 people who died in the attack, three belonged to the New Light Congregation. The suspect has pleaded not guilty to a 63-count indictment, including hate crime. After such a horrifying ordeal, the death penalty is being discussed as possible punishment for Bowers, among the prosecutors.

Rabbi of New Light Congregation, Jonathan Perlman has been trying to convince federal prosecutors not to seek the death penalty. He wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr and Scott W. Brady, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania in this regard. He offered an explanation in the letter about how his community was still recovering from the tragedy.

A long death penalty trial will only be more difficult for the witnesses and their families. The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced only last month that it will resume awarding the death sentence again. Federal executions had been on hold for around two decades before that. President Trump wants to expedite capital punishment against mass murder convicts and those guilty of assassinating a police officer.

Attorney General Barr has already asked for the execution of five death row inmates cum murder convicts to be scheduled. He backed the DOJ’s actions by saying that it is only acting as per the law directs. The families of the victims expect that the justice department will act on the sentence imposed on these criminals.

Rabbi Perlman’s position can be easily explained. Most American rabbis and Jewish communities today are opposed to the death penalty. The Torah does call for a death penalty sometimes, but the religious text has been reinterpreted by generations of rabbis since then, who longer agree with this sentiment.

Perlman would rather have the Court hand Bowers a life sentence without parole. He believes it would be a more just sentence, and Bowers would have to live with his actions for the rest of his years. Perlman’s wife too has come out in public supportive of his views.


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