Tim Hindes is not Jewish. In fact, the first time he was called a mensch, the designer had to look it up.
Hindes is the creator of the “Stronger Than Hate” logo that adorns T-shirts, kippahs, lawn signs, hoodies, buttons and more. It has become synonymous with support for both Pittsburgh and the Jewish community following the shooting at the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27. The logo was his reaction to the massacre. Hindes had no special connection to the Jewish people, he simply sketched out something that spoke to him.
“I created it as my own individual sharing of support. After creating it, I shared it to my Facebook page, meant as my own personal reflection on the tragedy, in support of Pittsburgh, in support of the Jewish community and really just saying we’re better than this.”
At a friend’s urging, Hindes made the post public. “It snowballed from there.”
By Monday, Oct., 29, his design had gone international. Hindes, who is the CEO of Trailblaze Creative, created a three-question survey for people to answer before being granted access to the image. They had to agree “not use it for their own personal gain; that all profits would be donated to proper victims’ funds or to anti-hate groups in the city of Pittsburgh or the Pittsburgh region; and to use it for good and not evil. I think from that link about 2,000 people downloaded it.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 30, Hindes was on the phone with a lawyer from the Pittsburgh Steelers who called with an offer to help and a deal. Hindes would maintain design rights of the image, which relied on parts of the Steelers’ logo, and they would take over merchandising rights.
Once he agreed, Hindes was able to step back and allow the Steelers to police both the image and its use. “They had the power and authority to go after folks that were using it to profit. I know they sent cease and desist letters to those that could not prove they were donating funds to appropriate groups.”
In fact, several retail outlets in the city and online, including some in the Strip District, were told by the team’s lawyers that they couldn’t use the logo.
According to Mike Withrow, sales manager at Underground Printing, they have sold somewhere between 10 and 20,000 units since November 2018 when they began printing the shirts for the Steelers. Those T-shirts have gone to retail stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Pinsker’s Books & Judaica in Squirrel Hill.
In December, Hindes and Withrow presented a check to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Victims of Terror fund at the Steelers’ final home game. According to team spokesman Burt Lauten, the donation was $70,000.
While both the Steelers and Underground Press made the shirts available at various retail shops and Heinz Field, 123Shirt.com sells ‘Stronger than Hate” T-shirts exclusively online. The company began selling the shirts immediately following the shooting in honor of owner Larry Barasch’s uncle, Judah Samet.
Samet is a member of the Tree of Life congregation. He was late to morning services on Oct. 27, which most likely saved his life. Samet is also a Holocaust survivor.
The company has sold over 4,000 shirts and has donated $18,000 “directly to the congregation,” according to Barasch. “We wanted this to go directly to the victims. We’re doing what we can.”
Doing what they can has meant that 123Shirt.com has extended its support to other communities as well. “If you look at our site, you’ll see similar shirts,” Barasch said. “There is an ‘El Paso Stronger Than Hate’ shirt and ‘Dayton Stronger Than Hate’ shirt.”
Steel City, a local clothing brand with a retail store in Downtown Pittsburgh, created its own shirt. The company raised over $150,000, according to Brandon Grbach, and donated the money directly to the congregations that were targeted in the massacre. Grbach said the shirt was available online and in their store. “I think it all happened in 10 days; it was incredible,” said Grbach.
The shirt features a heart shattered and was designed with Steel City collaborator Chris Preksta. Preksta is perhaps best known as one of the writers of the “Pittsburgh Dad” online series. The two decided to use a design that reflected how they felt about the shooting. “Our hearts were broken. There was an overall sadness. That’s what came out.”
Neither Preksta nor Grbach are Jewish. At the time of the shooting, they were working on Mr. Rogers licensing for the company. Inspired by the TV legend, the pair discussed “what would be the most neighborly thing to do. What would Fred want us to do? We just wanted to be good neighbors.”
That feeling has inspired both Jews and non-Jews to purchase all variations of the T-shirts and assorted merchandise. Pinsker’s continues to sell the various “Stronger Than Hate” items, having already sold “hundreds upon hundreds,” according to owner Baila Cohen.
Local musician Rob Marsili proudly displays a sticker of the logo on his kick drum and has bought multiple T-shirts. “It’s important to me to show the Jewish community that we stand behind them in such dark times.”
“Hate is not tolerated or accepted,” Marsili added, “no matter what religion or race we are.” pjc
David Rullo can be reached at drullo@