Funeral to be held for 97-year-old synagogue attack victim
By MARYCLAIRE DALE
Friday, November 2
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A 97-year-old woman who was the oldest victim of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre will be laid to rest at the end of a wrenching, weeklong series of funerals.
Rose Mallinger’s funeral was scheduled for Friday. She was among 11 victims gunned down in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Her daughter was among six wounded.
The suspect, Robert Bowers, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges that could result in a death sentence. Bowers, 46, was arraigned on a 44-count indictment charging him with murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion and other crimes.
It was his second brief appearance in a federal courtroom since authorities say he opened fire Saturday at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
“Yes!” Bowers said in a loud voice when asked if he understood the charges.
Authorities say Bowers raged against Jews during and after the massacre. He remains jailed without bail.
The city’s Jewish community began burying its dead Tuesday as thousands of mourners attended services for a beloved family doctor and two brothers. The funerals have continued each day since.
Mallinger had attended Tree of Life for more than 60 years.
It was the “center of her very active life,” her family said in a statement distributed by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion. … It was her place to be social, to be active and to meet family and friends.”
Though advanced in years, Mallinger always stood during services. She faithfully attended, accompanied by her whole family on major holidays.
“She retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day,” the family statement said. “She did everything she wanted to do in her life.”
How safe is your place of worship?
November 2, 2018
Authors: Christopher P. Scheitle, Assistant Professor of Sociology, West Virginia University; Jeffery T. Ulmer, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, Pennsylvania State University
Disclosure statement: Christopher P. Scheitle receives funding from the National Science Foundation. Jeffery T. Ulmer receives funding from the National Science Foundation.
Partners: Pennsylvania State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US. West Virginia University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Many Americans may be wondering what security measures are in place at their place of worship after 11 people were killed in Oct. 27 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
President Donald Trump also alluded to this question when he said “the results would have been far better” if the Tree of Life congregation had armed guards or members.
According to news reports, the Tree of Life synagogue did not have armed guards present at the time of the shooting. Many community leaders rebuked Trump’s statements and argued that increasing armed security was not the solution.
We are a sociologist and criminologist who in 2015 conducted a national study of religious congregations’ experiences with, fears of and preparations for crime.
Our study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, featured a survey of over 1,300 places of worship and in-depth interviews with more than 50 congregational leaders.
We asked each leader – individuals with significant knowledge of the congregation’s operations – about the congregation’s history of crime, its security measures, the individual’s assessment of future crime risk and fears, and a variety of questions about the congregation’s operations and neighborhood.
While the Tree of Life synagogue was not part of our study, the results of this work may hold useful insights for conversations about crime and security in places of worship. Here’s what we found.
Threats and fear
Crimes, most commonly vandalism and theft, were committed at about 40 percent of congregations in the year prior to the survey. This overall percentage was not significantly different across religious traditions.
When we dug deeper, though, we found that synagogues and mosques deal with crime-related problems that are much different than the average church.
Our survey found, for instance, that synagogues and mosques were three times more likely than congregations overall to have received an explicit threat in the prior year.
Respondents also reported significantly greater fear that congregants would be assaulted or murdered on the congregation’s property. This helps explain another pattern we found: Jewish and Muslim congregations are in many ways far ahead of congregations representing other religious traditions when it comes to thinking about and implementing security measures.
The survey showed that 40 percent of congregations have in place at least four of the 18 security measures asked about in our survey. About 43 percent of congregations have an alarm system, 28 percent use security cameras, and 25 percent have taken steps to restrict the number of entries into their buildings.
Our interviews found that most places of worship have a hard time implementing security. Some of this is simply not enough money. Larger and wealthier congregations tend to have more security in place.
Beyond resources, our interviews consistently found that places of worship view security measures as a potential threat to their mission of creating a sacred space that is open to their communities.
However, our survey also found that synagogues and mosques were much more likely than the average congregation to have security cameras, restricted entry points, security guards and other security measures. For example, only 17 percent of all the congregations in our survey reported any use of security guards, whether full-time, part-time or for special events. This compares to just over 54 percent of synagogues and 28 percent of mosques. Synagogues are also more likely to have communicated with their local police.
Beyond the statistics, our in-depth interviews with leaders of congregations found that synagogues and mosques tend to put a great deal of thought into security. For synagogues in particular, our interviews found that local organizations are effective at sharing information and resources about security threats and strategies – for example, the Jewish Community Relations Councils.
The U.S. must find ways to address the threats and violence against synagogues, mosques and other places of worship. In the meantime, congregations can evaluate their security risks and precautions.
The sparse resources of most congregations present some limitations, but there are steps they can take at little or no cost. For instance, congregations can assess whether entry points should be restricted to increase the ability of staff and members to observe who enters the building.
Congregations are not alone in these efforts. Many local police departments will conduct a security assessment for specific congregations or offer a workshop for multiple congregations. Furthermore, many congregations have members who have relevant skills, from installing new locks to setting up security cameras. Simply starting a conversation within your community can help your congregation identify these resources.
Developing teen brains are vulnerable to anxiety – but treatment can help
November 2, 2018
Authors: Paola Odriozola, Ph.D. Student in Psychology, Yale University; Dylan Gee, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Yale University
Disclosure statement: Paola Odriozola receives funding from the National Science Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Science Foundation. Dylan Gee receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
Adolescence is the life stage when mental illnesses are most likely to emerge, with anxiety disorders being the most common. Recent estimates suggest that over 30 percent of teens have an anxiety disorder. That means about one of every three teenagers is struggling with anxiety that significantly interferes with their life and is unlikely to fade without treatment.
Kayla is the anxious teen protagonist in the recent movie “Eighth Grade.” From the acne peeking out through her makeup to the frequent “likes” that punctuate her speech, she seems to be a quintessentially awkward teen. Inside her mind, though, the realities of social anxiety meet the typical storm and stress of adolescence. Through its warm yet heart-wrenchingly truthful portrayal of an awkward and anxious teen, “Eighth Grade” provides a relatable character for identifying and understanding how teen anxiety can really look and feel.
As developmental neuroscientists, watching the film sparked a conversation about the latest science on anxiety during adolescence. Researchers are learning more about why the teenage brain is so vulnerable to anxiety – and developing effective treatments that are increasingly available.
What does teen anxiety look like?
The hallmark of anxiety disorders is fear or nervousness that does not go away, even in the absence of any real threat. In an emotional scene, Kayla shares that she’s “really, like, nervous all the time” and she “[tries] really hard not to feel that way,” as if she’s constantly waiting to ride a roller coaster with butterflies in her stomach, but never getting the relief of the ride ending.
For teens and parents, it can be hard to disentangle normal emotional changes that often accompany puberty from anxiety that may require professional care. Some of Kayla’s worries and fears are highly typical – feeling nervous about what others will think, worrying about making friends, wanting to “fit in.” The problem is that, unlike everyday worry, Kayla experiences these feelings all the time and in ways that force her to miss out on important opportunities of adolescence like exploring relationships.
Studies on the teenage brain are increasingly revealing why adolescence may be such a vulnerable time for anxiety. Researchers have focused on connections between the brain’s limbic system, including the amygdala which governs emotion, and the prefrontal cortex, the frontmost part of the brain. These connections are essential for controlling emotions, including fear, a core symptom in anxiety disorders.
The problem is that these amygdala-prefrontal cortex connections are slow to develop; they continue to strengthen into one’s early 20s. During adolescence, the brain goes through rapid changes in its shape and size and also in how it works. The very structures and connections in the brain that help to manage emotions are in flux during this developmental period, making teens especially vulnerable to stress and anxiety.
Anxious teens are at heightened risk for a host of long-term problems, including depression, substance abuse and suicide.
Evidence-based treatments work
Fortunately, help exists for anxious teens. As is the case for the startlingly high 80 percent of youth struggling with anxiety who don’t get treatment, Kayla’s journey through “Eighth Grade” also does not include any professional help. Yet no teen should need to face anxiety on their own. Psychotherapy and medications can both be highly effective.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective and widely used psychosocial treatments for anxiety in teens. In CBT, therapists help individuals with anxiety to gradually and repeatedly expose themselves to the very situations that they fear.
A socially anxious teen might start with imagining sending a classmate a text asking to hang out, gradually move on to sending that text, or even calling a classmate on the phone, and eventually initiating a conversation with an unfamiliar peer at a party. The goal is to practice these anxiety-provoking actions and associate them with a new state of safety.
Decades of studies in animals and people have helped psychology researchers understand more about how the brain regulates fear. Building on this work, emerging neuroscience evidence suggests that current treatments for anxiety directly modify the same amygdala-prefrontal connections that are in flux during adolescence and implicated in anxiety.
For example, evidence suggests that both cognitive behavioral therapy and medication treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may reduce amygdala reactivity and enhance prefrontal control. The treatments help these brain circuits regulate fear and keep them from overreacting to potentially anxiety-provoking situations.
Researchers like us are actively working to leverage growing insight into the teenage brain to further optimize anxiety-focused treatments. Neuroscientific studies have the unique advantage of peering inside the teenage brain to directly assess developmental changes in amygdala-prefrontal cortex connections. Using imaging technologies, we’re able to characterize the state of this neural circuitry and how well it’s controlling fear at a given stage of development. And this knowledge provides clues about how to match up the most effective behavioral techniques for regulating anxiety with a particular teen’s stage of brain circuit development.
Evidence suggests that the ways in which people learn about potential dangers in their environment and how they are able to control or regulate responses to those threats undergo important changes during the teenage years. Translating this knowledge into the treatment realm could provide new windows into precision medicine, allowing treatments to be tailored specifically for teenagers.
Although the teenage brain is prone to anxiety because of where it is on its path of biological development, effective treatment options exist and are continually being refined to target the adolescent brain.