Famed US Jewish Architect Will Renovate Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Site of Worst Antisemitic Atrocity in US History
Daniel Libeskind — whose portfolio includes the master plans for the post-9/11 World Trade Center site in New York as well as Jewish museums in Europe, Israel and the United States — has been announced as the lead architect in the rebuilding of the Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh, the site of the worst antisemitic atrocity in American history on Oct. 27, 2018.
The son of Holocaust survivors from Poland, Libeskind issued a solemn statement on Tuesday confirming his involvement.
“It is with a great sense of urgency and meaning that I join the Tree of Life to create a new center in Pittsburgh,” Libeskind said. “Our team is committed to creating a powerful and memorable space that addresses the worst antisemitic attack in United States history.”
Eleven worshipers were killed and six people wounded when gunman Robert Bowers, an avowed white supremacist, attacked Shabbat morning services at the synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Among his victims were a 97-year-old woman, two brothers in their 50s and a married couple in their 80s. Bowers is presently on trial facing 63 criminal charges related to the massacre.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the synagogue’s rebuilding plans include modernizing its main sanctuary space, which was vacant on the day of the attack. Other parts of the campus, including a smaller chapel and other rooms where the attack took place, are planned for demolition. The historic stained-glass windows from both the chapel and the sanctuary, which depict biblical and historical Jewish themes, are being preserved.
The daughter of the one of the victims of the massacre said she would look forward to entering the synagogue following its transformation.
“This is an exciting next step in this long process of rebuilding. I am looking forward to entering a new Tree of Life building without fear or hesitation,” Andrea Wedner — the daughter of Rose Mallinger, Bowers’ 97-year-old victim — told local news outlet TribLive on Tuesday.