Community members are encouraged to study Torah, volunteer and practice self-care in memory of the 11 people murdered in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. In conjunction with the fifth commemoration of Oct. 27, 2018, area groups are partnering on various activities designed to promote spirit and service.
On the morning of Oct. 27, the 10.27 Healing Partnership will host virtual Torah study with teachers from around the world. Then, to mark the yahrzeit of the 11 people killed (Cheshvan 18), the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill will host in-person learning on the evening of Nov. 1.
Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, said she hopes to see a diverse representation of community members during Torah study.
Eric Lidji, director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Heinz History Center and an organizer of the educational initiative, noted the benefit of diversity in study.
“In the past few years, few experiences have been as gently healing for me as sitting with others in the community, working over a text together,” he said. “It is a way of saying everything we want to say without having to find the words.”
Those seeking to develop their voice to advocate for stronger gun legislation can attend one of several programs. On Oct. 22, Squirrel Hill Stands Against Gun Violence will partner with Repair the World Pittsburgh, CeaseFirePA and the 10.27 Healing Partnership for an in-person workshop on “how to tell your own story in order to move stronger gun legislation forward.”
“Building relationships with other people and hearing their stories is one of the most effective ways to steer people’s point of view,” said Dana Kellerman, policy director for Squirrel Hill Stands Against Gun Violence.
A similar but separate event on Oct. 26 will embolden attendees to tell their story by understanding its place within the broader context of gun violence.
There have been 542 mass shootings this year in the U.S., according to the Gun Violence Archive. Since Jan. 1, more than 33,000 people died by gun violence. Fifty-five percent of those deaths were suicides.
“Improved treatment for mental health problems or suicidality might reduce certain types of mass shootings, but such policies may also reduce far more common forms of homicide, suicide and crime and may also improve economic productivity and social well-being,” the Rand Corporation reported in 2021.
It’s essential for people to understand “the reasons why we have a gun violence problem,”
Kellerman said. With that information, they can successfully craft an effective narrative; the outcome may involve telling a story through a letter to the editor or finding a way to speak to a neighbor or legislator to influence voting patterns, she added.
The Oct. 22 program is in memory of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, a member of Congregation Dor Hadash who was killed in the synagogue massacre.
The various volunteer opportunities and sites were chosen “because of their significance to those who were killed on Oct. 27 and their families,” Feinstein said.
On Oct. 25, the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill is hosting a day of wellness and healing. Membership to the center is not required to enjoy free yoga, acupuncture, group improv, reiki-infused sound bathing and an open arts studio.
The 2023 communitywide Commemoration Ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. on Prospect Drive in Schenley Park.
The confluence of Torah study, volunteering and self-care as a lead-up to the commemoration follows a commitment established by the Commemoration Working Group, Feinstein said.
In remembering Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Irving Younger and Melvin Wax, “the goal was to create a rhythm that was predictable,” Feinstein continued. “We want people to know what to expect and find some avenue that is healing.” PJC
More information, including dates, times and registration, is available at
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.