By David Rullo
Four members of the Orthodox Jewish community were assaulted over the last few weeks in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill.
On Sunday, June 6, three people were verbally assaulted by an assailant identified as a 6-foot tall, 220-pound Black male, carrying a large walking stick. The man shouted antisemitic slurs as the victims walked home from religious services. The incident took place in the vicinity of Beechwood Boulevard and Denniston Avenue. An investigation is pending, according to Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
A week later, on Sunday, June 13, a male walking home from services at Shaare Torah Congregation was physically assaulted near Murray Avenue and Bartlett Street. The attacker was described only as a “well-built Black male,” according to Brokos. The victim sustained broken bones and was transported to the hospital. An investigation is pending.
Both incidents occured when the victims left evening services. It is unknown if the second incident was a hate crime or if the two assaults are related, Brokos said.
The Federation suggests that Squirrel Hill residents not walk unaccompanied in the neighborhood. The Federation also recommends talking to children and teens about safety, while stressing the need to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
Brokos reiterated the need to report all security concerns and incidents to her office and to the police.
“Even if it seems inconsequential at the time, it could be a small piece to a larger puzzle,” she said. “We’ll determine if it means nothing.”
Similar assaults also have occurred recently in Ohio, Rhode Island and California, according to media reports.