Congregation Dor Hadash, one of the three congregations displaced following the Oct. 27, 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life building, will be staying indefinitely in its new home, Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland, lay leadership announced recently.
“We are nomadic – we’ve never owned a building, we’ve always rented,” said Donna Coufal, the lay-led Reconstructionist congregation’s president. “It’s not because we’re making a statement. But Rodef Shalom has been so good to us.”
Dor Hadash moved into the Tree of Life building in Squirrel Hill about 10 years ago, Coufal said. It had been holding services and meetings – before COVID-19 hit – at Rodef Shalom after the shooting closed its former home at the corner of Shady and Wilkins avenues. Previous to that, Dor Hadash services were held at two other Squirrel Hill locations – the Yeshiva School for Girls and at Community Day School.
The congregation currently is holding all activities and services via Zoom video conferencing due to COVID-19 concerns.
“For right now, especially with COVID-19, nobody really knows what space they need,” Coufal said last week. “But we have a great relationship with [Rodef Shalom] – I’m happy to publicize that.”
Rodef Shalom Rabbi Aaron Bisno said he welcomed the announcement – and the new tenant.
“I’m delighted,” Bisno said. “It plays into a category I’ll call ‘more better.’ When we do things together, it’s ‘more better.’ This is part of how Pittsburgh’s Jewish community comes together.”
The anti-Semitic shooting at the Tree of Life building left 11 congregants from the three congregations housed within the building dead and two seriously wounded, including members of Dor Hadash.
New Light Congregation, which also was housed at the Tree of Life building and lost members in the massacre, announced earlier this year that it would stay at Congregation Beth Shalom in Squirrel Hill, where it has been since the 2018 attack. PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.