PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Leaders from the Jewish Community, survivors, and family members of the victims from last year’s Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting gathered Friday at the Jewish Federation building.
A handful of panels addressed the media on a range of topics including the victim-focused approach to the one-year commemoration of the mass shooting in Squirrel Hill.
Leaders discussed coping mechanisms, trauma-informed care, mental health assistance, and spiritual care providers, as well as the theme for the upcoming day: “Remember, Repair, Together.”
“We have a concept of honoring the deceased in two primary ways,” said Rabbi Amy Bardack. “One of which is acts of love and kindness and community service opportunities are being organized and they’re open to be signed up and we have about 750 slots available at a variety of sites.”
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Those community service opportunities are planned for October 27 and outlined on a new, dedicated website, PittsburghOct27.org.
Survivors like Andrea Wedner said that it’s crucial to attend the planned commemoration and she’s looking forward to honoring her mother’s memory and the 10 remaining victims.
“I will be there,” said Wedner. “I think that’s going to be a day to honor the memory of the 11 and I want to be there. For me to stay away from things wouldn’t help.”
There are also four “activities of honor” planned for October 27 including community service opportunities, study of the Torah, counseling, and discussion at the new 10.27 resilience center.
The day will end with a commemoration ceremony at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall from 5:00-6:00 p.m.
No events are planned at or near the Tree of Life synagogue.
“We will reopen,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, Tree of Life Congregation. “We must reopen, because if we don’t then evil wins and we’re not letting it win on my watch.”
But not all the family members affected are interested in returning to the scene of the attack.
Michele Rosenthal, sister to the late Cecil and David Rosenthal, believes it will be too painful.
“Both Andrea and I wouldn’t go in,” she said. “We’ve talked about it. If my parents wanted to go in, they’re not here right now, and I’ve urged them not to go in and I’ve leaned them towards that, but I have enough in my mind from the details that I know that it would be too hard to go back in.”