SQUIRREL HILL (KDKA) – A road near the Tree of Life Synagogue has re-opened for the first time since a tragic shooting.
The Tree of Life Synagogue is located near the intersection of Wilkins and Shady Avenues in Squirrel Hill. Wilkins Avenue had remained closed since a shooting inside the synagogue, which left 11 people dead and six others injured.
The road re-opened around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday when officers pulled down the police line tape and drove away the squad cars blocking the intersections.
The public can now see the damage close-up – doorways and windows shattered by gunfire, which are now covered with plywood.
“We’re moving forward,” said Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. Daniel Herrmann. “The neighborhood as best as it can, I want to say, will resume as normal, but I don’t know if there will be a normal for quit a long time.”
FBI crime scene investigators wrapped up their grim task on Monday, returning the building to the synagogue leaders, who though declining comment, are expected to begin renovating soon. But as everyday life resumes in Squirrel Hill, hearts are still heavy even over the comfort of chicken noodle soup and pastrami sandwiches at the Smallman Street Deli on Murray Avenue.
“Everyone’s sad. Their hearts are broken. You just hug them and you cry every time you see people,” said deli owner Jeff Cohen.
Cohen says the neighborhood has little choice but to carry on.
“I think we’ll move on. We’re strong. The community is strong, the city’s strong, but we’ll never forget Oct. 27. It’s on of the those 9/11 deals;it will stay in our minds forever,” he said.
In the days after the tragedy, a mourners made their way to the synagogue to pay their respects to the victims. It didn’t take long for a memorial to grow, which included flowers, candles and a Star of David bearing the name of each of the 11 victims.
A couple of days later, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers returned to the synagogue for the first time.
“From what I understand, our sanctuary is no longer usable. There are hundreds of bullet holes in our sanctuary,” Rabbi Myers said.
All three congregations that used Tree of Life for worship services attended services on Saturday at the Beth Shalom congregation building in Squirrel Hill.
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The service began with one minute and 11 seconds of silence at the exact time that Rabbi Myers called 911.
More than 1,000 people came to honor the 11 victims.
The rabbi ended his sermon with some advice for the congregation. He told everyone to follow a path of good because that’s the only way to heal the community.
A crowd of about 100 people also gathered outside the Tree of Life Synagogue, standing in the rain while Rabbi Chuck Diamond conducted a Shabbat prayer vigil.