Master gardener Lauren Mallinger likes getting her fingers dirty. When the opportunity arose to beautify an outdoor space and honor her late mother-in-law, Mallinger dug in.
Standing beside a newly dedicated area at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill, Mallinger pointed to annuals, perennials, pristine fencing and a dedicated plaque bearing the words “Rose’s Garden.”
Given by the Mallinger and Wedner families and friends, the garden is in memory of Rose Mallinger, one of 11 Jewish worshippers murdered during the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
Dedicated on Oct. 27, 2023, five years to the day of the heinous antisemitic 2018 attack, the garden is a way to remember “Rose’s beauty and how she gave such life to everybody,” said Brian Schreiber the JCC’s chief external affairs officer and special adviser to the CEO. “If you think about Jewish values, the idea of land, and cultivating land, and making things grow, the cycle of life is so real.”
Among her many JCC connections, Rose Mallinger often enjoyed lunch with fellow seniors at the center. In her memory, other adults as well as children can use this outdoor space “in a nice protected beautiful environment,” he added.
Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, credited volunteers from Repair the World Pittsburgh and the JCC’s Sherree Hall with enabling the project to flourish.
“The project is close to my heart because that family is close to my heart,” said Hall, the JCC’s senior director of facilities and security.
Hall and Alan Mallinger, Rose’s son, worked together for nearly 25 years at the JCC.
“When Lauren came to me and said, ‘I’d like to do something up here to honor Rose,’ I was all in,” Hall said.
Three years after the seeds for a memorial garden were planted, generations of family and friends stood nearby. Last Friday, as parents, cousins and friends watched, Rose Mallinger’s grandchildren uncovered a plaque bearing their matriarch’s name. The moment, like most family gatherings, was captured by countless photographs.
Hilary Soriano said her grandmother would have thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony and setting.
“It’s a beautiful thing to turn an empty space into a place of gathering, which is something that my grandmother loved to do,” Soriano said. “She loved to be with other people. She loved to be social.”
Beautifying a place where generations can gather is how “my grandmother’s memory will live on,” Eric Mallinger told the Chronicle. “She was big in the JCC community. We were big in it when we were younger. It’s nice there’s a space for everyone here, where everyone can come together. I think she would love that.”
Before Rose Mallinger’s grandchildren dispersed into a crowd of aunts, uncles, cousins, partners, parents, spouses and friends, the words at the bottom of the plaque were read aloud.
“If love alone could have spared you, you would have lived forever.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.