Fences covered with blue tarps still surround the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, where 11 Jewish worshipers were killed last October.
But the three congregations which once worshipped there want to change that aesthetic.
Tree of Life board member Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg said the neighborhood was supportive in the aftermath of the mass shooting, “and it just seemed like not a very kind way to repay them by becoming a blight.”
Eisenberg also lives in the Squirrel Hill and agreed with her neighbors that the tarps had become an eye sore, and a little morbid. But one day she realized that those ugly tarps were really yards of blank canvas, which could be used to project any message they wanted.
“And the idea was to take something that’s really dismal and sort of a real downer, and create something that would be uplifting and beautiful,” said Eisenberg.
Eisenberg said the Tree of Life congregation was inspired by all of the creative gifts they received after the shooting, from poetry to paintings, especially from young people. They, along with D’Or Hadash and New Light congregations, are inviting 13 to 17-year-olds from around the world to submit original pieces which focus on positive messages for the project called #HeartsTogether: The Art of Rebuilding.
Those works will be printed on windscreens to replace the tarps.
Artwork should express sentiments like gratitude, love, community, healing and resilience, and can be submitted on the Tree of Life website until May 31st.
Eisenberg said the fences could remain at the corner of Wilkins and Shady avenues for years until the synagogue is refurbished – a process which has not yet begun.