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Special Report: Stories Of Hope And Healing, One Year After Tree Of Life

Keith Srakocic
The sun shines over gardens surrounding the Tree of Life Synagogue Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Sunday, Oct. 27, marks the one-year anniversary of the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.


On this special report: One year ago today, 11 people were killed and five others wounded at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. It remains the most deadly anti-Semitic attack on American soil. 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence presents a look back at the hurt and healing that has transpired since. 

On Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, a lone gunman--now known to be targeting Jews--walked in during Shabbat morning services with a semi-automatic rifle and three handguns. That morning, Pittsburgh lost Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.

Included in today's remembrances are: 

  • Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, New Light Congregation, which worships at Tree of Life;
  • Jim Busis, publisher of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, based in Squirrel Hill;
  • Mark Oppenheimer, host of the podcast Unorthodox who's writing a book about Tree of Life in partnership with the Pulitzer Center;
  • Andrea Wedner, daughter of 97-year-old victim Rose Mallinger;
  • Sam Schachner, president of Tree of Life *Or L’Simcha congregation;
  • Barb Feige, executive director of Tree of Life;
  • William Stevens, director of Calvary Episcopal Church's altar guild;
  • Jonathon Jensen, head priest of Calvary Episcopal Church;
  • Bill Peduto, mayor of Pittsburgh;
  • Carla Kearns, Pittsburgh Police sergeant and coordinator of its member services program; and
  • David Shribman, former executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The staff won the Pulitzer Prize for their breaking news coverage of the attack and its immediate aftermath.

Mental health counseling will be available today at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Rodef Shalom Congregation from 2 to 4 p.m., and at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall from 5 to 6 p.m. The Center For Victims is also providing a 24/7 hotline for support. Reach them at 1.866.644.2882. 
The Port Authority of Allegheny County is offering free rides to and from the memorial at Soldiers & Sailors between 3 and 7 p.m. on multiple 61 and 71 routes.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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