Ari Mahler was on duty in the ER when Robert Bowers was wheeled in the hospital shouting, “Death to all Jews.”
As Frank Somerville of KTVU shared on Facebook, Mahler is a trauma nurse in Pittsburgh. He was one of the medical staff who cared for Bowers, the anti-Semite who allegedly shot and killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
One other thing … Mahler is Jewish. In his post, he identified himself as “the Jewish nurse who ran into a room to save [Bowers’] life.”
In the wake of the shooting, the fact that a Jewish nurse cared for Bowers attracted a lot of attention. So Mahler felt compelled to explain how he was able to ignore the horror of what Bowers had done while he worked to save him.
“I am The Jewish Nurse. Yes, that Jewish Nurse. The same one that people are talking about in the Pittsburgh shooting…
Mahler wrote that he wasn’t particularly surprised that the shooting occurred. In fact, he believes that history shows “it’s only a matter of time” before there’s another such shooting. He wrote that he saw plenty of anti-Semitism as a child:
I found drawings on desks of my family being marched into gas chambers, swastikas drawn on my locker, and notes shoved inside of it saying, “Die Jew. Love, Hitler.”
But when Mahler looked into his patient’s eyes, he says that he didn’t see evil. He saw ignorance:
To be honest, I didn’t see evil when I looked into Robert Bowers’ eyes. All I saw was a clear lack of depth, intelligence, and palpable amounts of confusion.
Robert Bowers probably had no friends, was easily influenced by propaganda, and wanted attention on a sociopathic level.
He’s the kind of person that is easily manipulated by people with a microphone, a platform, and use fear for motivation.
Before Bowers arrived in the ER, Mahler had been worrying that his own parents might have been among those killed in the man’s shooting spree. But after Mahler worked on him, Bowers thanked the nurse:
I can’t go into details of our interactions because of HIPAA, but Robert Bowers thanked me for saving him, for showing him kindness, and for treating him the same way I treat every other patient.
Mahler is sure that his patient had no idea that his nurse was Jewish — otherwise, why would Bowers have thanked him?
But Mahler didn’t enlighten Bowers about his faith. The nurse never said a word about being Jewish the entire time Bowers was in his care. Why? Mahler wrote:
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.
As Mahler points out, it doesn’t really matter if Bowers finds out he had a Jewish nurse. The more important question is what it means for others.
The son of a rabbi, Mahler says that the reason for doing as he did is simple: love. Love is a way of showing humanity and reaffirming why we are here:
Love as an action is more powerful than words, and love in the face of evil gives others hope.
He added, “The meaning of life is to give meaning to life, and love is the ultimate force that connects all living beings.”
Mahler says he doesn’t care what Bowers thinks. He only wants to instill the message of love in those who read his words.
In a follow-up post, Mahler clarified that while he received attention as the “Jewish nurse,” he isn’t unique. Any other nurse would have done the same:
Every other nurse I work with is capable of showing the same level of compassion, decency, and professionalism under the same circumstances. We are a profession of love, and our sense of pride comes from the empathy we share for humanity.
He went on to urge those reading to love each other and cast light on the darkness we saw in Pittsburgh. As he wrote on Facebook: “If my actions mean anything, love means everything.”