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A Day To Heal: Community Events Mark One Year Since Tree Of Life Shooting

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
#HeartsTogether: The Art of Rebuilding artwork outside the Tree of Life synagogue. It's been nearly one year since a gunman killed 11 worshippers at the site.

Sunday marks one year since the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, and several events have been scheduled in an effort to help people grieve and heal. 

Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland is holding Torah study from 2 to 4 p.m.; topics include remembering loved ones and grappling with injustice. Anyone is welcome, but sign up in advance is required. 

Dozens of community service opportunities are also available, ranging from cleaning up Jewish cemeteries to giving blood. A community gathering will take place 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial. This event is expected to have music, readings and prayer, and will be projected on screens outside the Memorial if indoor seating is full.

"Coming together as a community is a way of us honoring the lives that were lost," said Adam Hertzman, director of marketing at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. "But also making sure that people are in a safe space where they can mourn."

Healing is not a linear process, said Hertzman, and trauma can re-emerge at any time. He said this is normal, and he hopes Sunday's events show people it's OK to feel this way. 

Mental health counseling will be available at the following locations:

  • Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Rodef Shalom Congregation: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Hertzman said the community groups who are holding these events worked closely with the families of the Tree of Life victims to honor what their wishes for the one-year commemoration.
"One of the things that the families of the people that were murdered had asked was that the day of October 27th be reserved for just community healing, and not for political acts or political protests," Hertzman said.