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Forum on the Death Penalty and Judaism: The Tree of Life Shootings and Beyond

December 4, 2019, 7:00pm-9:00pm

AT TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE IN PITTSBURGH, on October 27, 2018, a gunman killed ten congregants and injured six more. The gunman himself was shot but survived.

The shooter has been charged with multiple federal and state crimes. On August 26, 2019, the U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh announced that federal prosecutors would be seeking the death penalty in the case.

The Jewish communities in America, and leaders and members of those communities, hold a range of beliefs about capital punishment. Those views stem not only from Jewish law and tradition, but also from individually held moral and legal positions.

The Pittsburgh synagogue shootings have put Jewish beliefs about the death penalty to a major test. Two of the leading Jewish movements are generally opposed to capital punishment. Two of the three congregations that share Tree of Life Synagogue have registered their opposition to seeking the death penalty in this case. The surviving spouse of a victim has also asked that the death penalty not be sought.

On December 4, 2019 at 7:00pm, Temple Emanu-El in Tucson will hold an important forum to explore the application of the death penalty in the case of Tree of Life Synagogue and to discuss the death penalty from Jewish, legal and philosophical perspectives.

Five expert panelists will help lead a discussion of the issues and questions surrounding this essential topic. The panel includes:

Rabbi Batsheva Appel – Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Tucson

Rick Unklesbay – Veteran Pima County prosecutor, author on the issue of the death penalty

Amy Krauss – Criminal defense attorney, specialist in capital case appeals

Dan Cooper – Criminal defense attorney, veteran of capital case trials

Michael Gill – Professor of philosophy at University of Arizona, moral philosopher and ethicist

The forum is free and open to the public. Advance registration is highly recommended but not required.


Phone: (520) 327-4501



Thu, November 26 2020 10 Kislev 5781