Service, commemoration and study planned in memory of lives lost on Oct. 27, 2018
Community looks to volunteerism and Torah study four years after Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
Four years after the attack at the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018, two organizations are enabling community members to serve and commemorate.
The 10.27 Healing Partnership and Repair the World Pittsburgh are organizing numerous volunteer events in memory of the 11 Pittsburgh Jews murdered that day.
Members of Tree of Life Congregation, Congregation Dor Hadash and New Light Congregation were worshipping at their respective Shabbat services in the Tree of Life building when a gunman entered and opened fire. Six other people were seriously wounded in the attack, including four first responders.
This year’s service opportunities, which are scheduled through the end of October, include beautifying local spaces, donating blood and packing books.
Each project, said Maggie Feinstein of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, ensures the “voices of the three congregations and families and survivors are honored and reflect what we’ve learned over the last three years: This was an attack on the Jewish community, and the lives should be a blessing for the entire community.”
Annie Dunn, a senior program associate of Repair the World: Pittsburgh, said four themes — civic engagement, community care, environmental stewardship and honoring loved ones — guide the volunteering opportunities, and that many of the projects were planned in collaboration with those principally affected by the events of Oct. 27, 2018.
In Judaism, after a loved one dies, it’s common to say, “May their memory be a blessing,” Dunn noted. This year’s projects seek to honor the “commitments, passions and service” that each of the 11 people who died shared with the community throughout their lifetimes.
Dunn said that the 19 service opportunities are intended to create meaningful experiences and build community.
She pointed to an Oct. 30 session coordinated by Repair the World and the Pittsburgh Prison Book Project during which volunteers can spend an afternoon packing books and educational materials requested by people incarcerated across Pennsylvania.
The project is an opportunity to “build solidarity across different communities affected by violence,” Dunn said.
Each of the service programs, which are listed on the 10.27 Healing Partnership’s website, provides a “different entry point” and a means of bringing people together, she added.
Feinstein said that during the last three years, the community has learned the value of creating space for service and learning.
In addition to the service projects, there will be online and in-person Torah study available on Oct. 27. Additionally, on Nov.12 — the yahrzeit of the 2018 attack — in-person Torah study will be available in Squirrel Hill, Feinstein said.
Organizers said they understand that while service projects may speak to some, Torah study may speak to others.
There’s also the 2022 Commemoration for the lives lost on Oct. 27, 2018, Feinstein noted. The outdoor program will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Oct. 27 on Prospect Drive in Schenley Park.
Between the various offerings available, “we are hopeful that people will find something that they find to be healing and meaningful,” she said.
To view a list of planned activities, visit 1027healingpartnership.org. PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at [email protected].