PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM/AP) — Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro said on Thursday that he will take his oath of office on a Bible that was at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on the day of the 2018 shooting.
“I’ll take my oath of office on a bible provided by the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh,” Shapiro said in a tweet. “It was on the bima the day eleven Jews were killed in the deadliest act of antisemitism in US history. On Tuesday, it will be at our state Capitol.”
A Jewish Insider article Shapiro shared in his tweet says that the Bible from the Tree of Life synagogue will be one of three Hebrew Bibles on which Shapiro will take his oath.
At a time of rising concern about overt expressions of antisemitism, some observers are seeing a bright spot in his decisive victory, particularly coming in a presidential battleground state in which he was competing with a starkly contrasting opponent who deployed Christian nationalist themes.
Shapiro won by 14 percentage points and built a classic Democratic coalition that included progressives from multiple faith traditions as well as the non-religious. He received the endorsement of groups like the Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity. Shapiro outpolled his opponent, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, among Catholics, and he received an 80% share of votes of those with no religious affiliation, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of midterm voters.
And his candidacy was closely followed by the Jewish community, which recalled in particular his response as the state’s top law enforcement officer to the Tree of Life attack.
Beth Kissileff, a Pittsburgh writer and member of New Light Congregation — one of three congregations that lost members while meeting at the Tree of Life building — said it was reassuring to see Shapiro win as a “candidate who is confident that his values as a Jew are ones that he can teach and express in the public sphere and be championed by a majority of voters.”
Shapiro had already twice won statewide elections as attorney general, but he knew he’d be getting a new level of voter scrutiny in 2022 as a top-of-the-ticket candidate. “I thought it was very important to let Pennsylvanians know who I am and what I’m all about,” said Shapiro, a member of a synagogue in the middle-of-the-road Conservative tradition of Judaism.
He used his first campaign ad to tell family stories and of his commitment to making “it home Friday night for Sabbath dinner,” complete with footage of him and his children at the table. “Family and faith ground me,” he said.
Shapiro will be sworn in as Pennsylvania’s 48th governor on Jan. 17 at noon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.