Tuesday, January 31st | 9 Shevat 5783

January 1, 2019 11:26 am

Pittsburgh Synagogue Celebrates ‘First Happy Occasion’ Since Deadly Mass Shooting


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

People pray at a makeshift memorial near the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Oct. 31, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Cathal McNaughton.

Congregants recently gathered for the “first happy occasion” at the Tree Of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh since the Oct. 27 massacre in which 11 worshipers were murdered by a neo-Nazi gunman, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The community celebrated the bar mitzvah of the son of congregation president Sam Schachner on the weekend of Dec. 15.

During the bar mitzvah service, some relatives of the victims of the shooting were given the honor to stand in front for the reading of the Torah. Schachner explained, “We wanted to honor and remember them.”

That same weekend, the New England Patriots were in town to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited Tree of Life in a show of support. Kraft also gave the Schachner family tickets to see the game, which the Steelers won.

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Schachner told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of the aftermath of the attack, “I think we’re doing quite well. Trauma is not something you quickly recover from, and we’ve had a severe trauma.”

The Tree of Life congregation is temporarily using the space of two nearby synagogues for its activities and services, according to the report.

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