The 10.27 Healing Partnership announced plans to continue operations through 2028.
Created after the Oct. 27, 2018, massacre at the Tree of Life building, the organization made the announcement despite the the imminent cessation of its funding, which is from a federal Antiterrorism Emergency Assistance program grant administered by the Pennsylvania Commission for Crime and Delinquency. Funding will end on Sept. 30.
The Partnership made the decision after a lengthy strategic planning process, which involved input from community stakeholders including family members of the 11 people murdered during the attack, survivors of the attack, constituents from the three congregations targeted, Jewish community organizations and survivor communities of other hate-based mass violence.
The Partnership is announcing its decision nearly six months before its funding ends to assure the community that it is committed to continue its services during the trial of the accused shooter and the commemoration ceremonies through 2028.
Maggie Feinstein, director of the Partnership, said the organization asked key questions about its operations in deciding whether to remain operational.
“One of the questions was, do we grow and stay open indefinitely, do we say that we are not going to be around forever but that this is the wrong time to close, or do we sunset with the grant,” Feinstein said.
The answer, Feinstein said, was that there should be a lifespan for the resiliency center, but now is not the right time to close.
Part of the organization’s focus over the next five years, she said, will be ensuring that, as the community comes out of the trial process — which is set to begin on April 24 and expected to take three months — the center has provided meaningful benefits so that its partners feel more equipped to manage trauma, serve and understand the victims of the event, understand victim services through a community lens and understand how a healing-centered community can look.
Since 2019, the 10.27 Healing Partnership has offered services and programs including individual counseling, Wellness Wednesdays, trauma-influenced yoga, drum circles, forest bathing and opportunities for connection and reflection for individuals impacted by the Oct. 27 attack and others who experience hate-induced trauma.
The Partnership also coordinates the annual commemoration that brings together various elements of the Pittsburgh community.
Feinstein acknowledged that the grief and trauma associated with Oct. 27 won’t end when the partnership ceases to operate. Rather, she said, the organization’s community partners are building a roadmap “of when and how to start the transition process of the different things we’ve been intimately involved in.”
“The learning process of the last four years,” she said, “has been, what value do we bring? What do people need? What are people looking for? And do we have a unique value proposition that’s different than what our partner organizations have?”
The Partnership’s commitment, she said, is to make sure the programs provided have a home where those services will continue.
Feinstein said the organization’s partners want to have meaningful relationships with the victims and the community and want to ensure that their voices are heard.
Proof of the strength and resiliency of the community, Feinstein said, is the work the 10.27 Healing Partnership has done with the annual commemoration. In fact, she said that she’s heard from community members that the commemoration is so successful, it no longer needs the involvement of the Partnership — something she’s proud to hear.
“The reason they said that is because they believe that there’s now a formula that works,” she said. “The community has figured out how to authentically hold the space between study and gathering that meets their needs.”
Survivors of the Oct. 27 attack have expressed gratitude that the 10.27 Healing Partnership will continue its mission over the next five years.
Andrea Wedner, who survived the attack and whose mother was killed that day, is a member of the organization’s steering committee. She said that by remaining open, the Partnership will continue “our healing journey after the trial is over.”
“I am confident that their expertise will continue to provide comfort and therapeutic support to the direct victims of the shooting as well as the broader community,” she said.
Carol Black, too, survived the attack and assisted with the organization’s strategic plan. Her brother, Richard Gottfried, was one of the 11 murdered.
She said that the 10.27 Healing Partnership helped with the trauma she experienced and the grief of losing her brother.
“More recently, they have helped me find my voice as an advocate against antisemitism and hatred,” she said. “Healing is an ongoing process, and I was happy to contribute to a plan that will ensure resources are always there to support those impacted by that day.”
The Partnership has been housed at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh since its inception. Feinstein said there are no plans to move it to another location.
JCC President and CEO Brian Schreiber said the organization reflects the community’s resilience and dedication to serve one another.
“As we look to the future,” he said, “we see a Jewish community in Pittsburgh that is blessed with an abundance of wonderful people and strong, enduring institutions. Speaking for the JCC, we’re committed to working with the Healing Partnership over the next five years to make sure we are prepared to serve those in need, and always hold the memory of the 11 who were taken that day.”
State Rep. Dan Frankel, whose district includes Squirrel Hill, said he supports the continuation of services provided by the Partnership.
“I believe it is very important for the 10.27 Healing Partnership to continue for a few more years as we continue grieving and healing,” he said.
And while Feinstein has her eyes firmly set on helping the community through the trial process, she also knows that without the federal grant money, the Partnership will have to transition to a broader funding base, including private philanthropy and public grants.
“We haven’t done fundraising before,” she said.
It will also begin helping the community to think about the organization “not being here doing the same work and not looking the same from the outside,” she said. PJC
David Rullo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.