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SQUIRREL HILL (KDKA) — The memorials for the Squirrel Hill synagogue shooting victims left outside the Tree of Life Synagogue will soon be deconstructed so they can be moved indoors.
When tragedy of this magnitude strikes, it’s hard to know what to do. Human nature brings us to the scene with flowers, candles, signs and so much more.
But now after several weeks and the threat of inclement weather, it’s time to begin the process of moving the memorials.
Eric Lidji of the John Heinz History Center is helping with the archival process.
“There’s a large amount of flowers that are laid out and then around the flowers and presumably under, there are everything you can imagine — papers, stones, pieces of art. So the first step is going to be separating those flowers from the other things, then organizing the other things by type, then moving them inside and doing some basic preservation so that in the adjustment between outdoors and indoors, they don’t get damaged or become moldy,” he said.
Initially, the artifacts will be moved inside the Tree of Life lobby. The public will be able to continue viewing them through the exterior glass doors.
“The idea is that people should still be able to at least visually interact with it for a little while and then at the moment that the families and the congregations feels appropriate, the next step of figuring out the long-term preservation of these objects,” Lidji said.
The long-term plan is to create a permanent remembrance at the synagogue and preserve other pieces forever at the History Center. But given the emotions connected to the tragic event, it is a process that will take time.
“As I’ve sort of been describing it as a heart transplant. It’s possible to do it successfully, successfully but there is a lot of grief and emotion bound to these objects,” Lidji said.
Members of the three congregations impacted will begin the removal process on Wednesday.