Two Jewish Congregations Attacked By Tree Of Life Shooter Oppose Death Penalty Decision

Aug 27, 2019

Two congregations associated with the Tree of Life synagogue disagree with the federal government’s decision to pursue the death penalty against the man who allegedly killed 11 congregants last year.

Dor Hadash Congregation president Donna Coufal expressed members’ opposition in a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday. 

She says the congregation's position isn't strictly based on religious principle.

“We wanted to protect our congregants from being exposed to a trial,” Coufal says. “And we also did not want to bring attention to the shooter.”

In the letter, Coufal also said the decision to pursue capital punishment is a direct violation of the beliefs of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, a Dor Hadash congregant killed in the attack. 

“He was decidedly opposed to the death penalty and that was very important to him,” she says. “And so, it was a way that we could unite around our care for his position.”

New Light Congregation Rabbi Jonathan Perlman had previously spoken out against pursuing the death penalty for the gunman. Tree of Life Congregation has not publicly commented on the matter.