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Jewish community groups to hold days of service to honor Tree of Life shooting victims

Keith Srakocic
The 10.27 Healing Partnership and the Jewish service organization Repair the World will host a voter registration drive on Sunday. Other volunteer events include a clean-up at a local Jewish cemetery and gardening projects.

This month marks four years since the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. To honor the 11 lives lost, several local groups have partnered to hold a series of service events.

The 10.27 Healing Partnership, a resilience-building organization housed at the JCC in Squirrel Hill, and Repair the World Pittsburgh, a Jewish service group, worked with many of the victims’ families to identify acts of service that best remember them.

That includes honoring people like Melvin Wax, who was among the worshippers killed in the 2018 attack.

Wax is remembered by friends and neighbors for his passion for voting rights.

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“So this weekend, we'll try to carry through his passion to really make sure that people are registered to vote,” said Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership.

The 10.27 Healing Partnership and Repair the World will host a voter registration drive Sunday alongside the Black Political Empowerment Project and League of Women Voters.

Other events include a clean-up at a local Jewish cemetery, gardening projects and labeling books for donation to local courthouse family rooms. That’s where Joyce Feinberg, one of the victims at the Tree of Life synagogue, spent much of her time.

“She would volunteer at the family courts often to help with the kids when their parents had to be in court, and that was a passion of hers,” Feinstein said.

More than 20 local organizations from across Pittsburgh have come together to host the days of service, and people from all walks of life are encouraged to attend.

Feinstein said the programs serve as an opportunity to deepen solidarity across the city.

“That long-term resiliency is a really important part of the commemoration. By remembering, we actually remember both the pain, but also the strength,” she explained. “We also remember the loss as well as the new relationships that have come.”

The shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue is believed to be the deadliest assault on Jews in U.S. history, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Service events will be held citywide and online on Oct. 16, Oct. 23, Oct. 30 and Nov. 6. A full list of options and sign-ups are available on Repair the World's website.

An additional community-wide commemorative service will be held at Schenley Park on Oct. 27.

Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.