It takes a true professional to put aside their personal feelings in order to give someone the full care they require.
On October 27, 2018, Robert Browers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and opened fire on the people worshipping inside. He killed 11 people in the synagogue that day before engaging in a shootout with police. But this story isn’t about him. When he was captured, he was taken to Allegheny General Hospital to treat his gunshot wounds, and as fate would have it, the nurse who took care of him was Jewish.
Ari Mahler has come forward as the emergency room nurse who cared for the man who had just murdered 11 Jews. Relying on his training, Ari jumped into action just as he would have for any patient lying on a stretcher in his ER. While some people might not understand how or why Ari would provide medical care for someone who clearly hates him and anyone like him, the dedicated nurse wrote an explanation on Facebook that sums up his feelings with one simple concept: love.
I am The Jewish Nurse. Yes, that Jewish Nurse. The same one that people are talking about in the Pittsburgh shooting…
“I am The Jewish Nurse,” Ari wrote in his now-viral Facebook post. “Yes, that Jewish Nurse. The same one that people are talking about in the Pittsburgh shooting that left 11 dead. The trauma nurse in the ER that cared for Robert Bowers who yelled, ‘Death to all Jews,’ as he was wheeled into the hospital. The Jewish nurse who ran into a room to save his life.”
Ari went on to say he was nervous about sharing his role in the tragedy, but he needed to let the world know how he felt. He described the sort of casual antisemitism he has experienced throughout his life, including finding hateful messages in his desk at school and swastikas drawn on his locker. Growing up with a father who is a rabbi made him fall back on the saying, “I’m not that religious” to make others more comfortable with his religion.
“So now, here I am, The Jewish Nurse that cared for Robert Bowers. I’ve watched them talk about me on CNN, Fox News, Anderson Cooper, PBS, and the local news stations. I’ve read articles mentioning me in the NY Times and the Washington Post. The fact that I did my job, a job which requires compassion and empathy over everything, is newsworthy to people because I’m Jewish. Even more so because my dad’s a Rabbi.”
“To be honest, I didn’t see evil when I looked into Robert Bower’s eyes. I saw something else. I can’t go into details of our interactions because of HIPAA. I can tell you that as his nurse, or anyone’s nurse, my care is given through kindness, my actions are measured with empathy, and regardless of the person you may be when you’re not in my care, each breath you take is more beautiful than the last when you’re lying on my stretcher.”
I’m sure he had no idea I was Jewish. Why thank a Jewish nurse, when 15 minutes beforehand, you’d shoot me in the head with no remorse? I didn’t say a word to him about my religion. I chose not to say anything to him the entire time. I wanted him to feel compassion. I chose to show him empathy. I felt that the best way to honor his victims was for a Jew to prove him wrong.”
“Love. That’s why I did it. Love as an action is more powerful than words, and love in the face of evil gives others hope. It demonstrates humanity. It reaffirms why we’re all here. The meaning of life is to give meaning to life, and love is the ultimate force that connects all living beings. I could care less what Robert Bowers thinks, but you, the person reading this, love is the only message I wish instill in you. If my actions mean anything, love means everything.“
Beautifully stated. Our actions display who we really are, and Ari became a nurse and cared for a murderer because he is a good person. He knows that love will always triumph over hate, even in the darkest of hours. Bravo, Ari, and thank you.
Please share this story to spread the love and light that will drive out the darkness.