PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – “She had such kindness, such strong feeling about family, such consideration for others,” says Anthony Fienberg, of his mother, Joyce, one of the 11 people killed in the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.
Fienberg and his family live in Paris, but he returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh for the events marking one year since the tragedy.
He says he holds onto good memories of the Tree of Life Synagogue, having spent his middle and high school years there, learning about Judaism. It’s also where his mother was a devoted member of the congregation — a regular at Sabbath services.
“The reason why I’m here today in Pittsburgh and I’ll be here on Sunday is to show that life didn’t stop. It was a bad day. But life didn’t stop. Life continues, and we’re going to be better, not worse,” Fienberg says.
He also says that while people mean well when they inevitably ask how he’s doing, he’d rather they ask what they can do to make a better, kinder world.
“Ask yourself what sort of positive actions can you can take that’ll make a difference in honor of the victims, to show the exact opposite of what happened.”
A year later, Fienberg says what happened at Tree of Life seems no less surreal, although he has had time to sort through it. And he’s had time to mourn, “so it’s a little bit easier,” he says.
And as for his faith, Fienberg says he’s relying on it more than ever — studying Jewish teachings in an effort to better understand his mother’s death, and his own life.
“So yes, it’s changed my faith,” he says. “Not necessarily, however, making us distance ourselves from faith. But making it stronger. It’s also showing her grandchildren, my children, my niece, the way forward.”