PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One year ago, so many stood in Squirrel Hill surrounded by a community overwhelmed by pain.
While the pain inside the Tree of Life is still here, Sunday’s community commemoration was an example of a community that’s also been overwhelmed with love.
“God is with us in sorrow.”
A beautiful service a year to the day following the deadliest attack on Jews in United States’ history proved Pittsburgh mantle “Stronger Than hate” is as true now as it was then.
“We’re all different nationalities and everything and we should by this time, the way the world is now, we should be able to bond together,” said Andrew Torak.
Every nationality, age, creed, religion, and race flowed into historic Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland to honor the victims.
“I feel like if you’re here, you have a different impact over social media because that’s just words versus action,” said CAPA student Noah Levitt.
“Be with other people who are sharing grief and also togetherness,” said Philmore Carter.
“The energy that we felt in the room was love, and unity, and community,” said Jamie Lebovitz.
The community commemoration began with prayer.
“A prayer for emotionally and spiritually wounded souls, wherever they are.”
Aptly named “Remember, Repair, Together” including a touching personal video tribute to the 11 lives lost in the anti-Jewish killing at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers who survived the attack that fateful day says the road to healing has been met with daily grief as well as overwhelming support.
“The love that continues to pour in from across the world reassures me that the vast majority of humanity unquestionably rejects the actions of this perpetrator,” he said.
And yet despite the overwhelming support of the community and the world, a heightened revamped security at places of worship, the grief is still in repair for some.
“And I’m just stuck,” said Dr. Lisa Schlar. “I’m a Beth Shalom member which is just down the street from Tree of Life, I get triggered. I get really sad during the service. I don’t feel afraid, I get really sad and then I can’t really get my stuff together until Tuesday.”
What began with remembrance and prayer ended with a rousing call to action.
“And the government, I would like the government to this year, federal and state government, to finally take action on gun control,” said Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of New Light Congregation.
Rabbi Perlman says that “H” word as it’s been referred to is being replaced by another word in Squirrel Hill – hope.
Plans are still a work in progress to make Tree of Life a place for the community to pray once again.