Many of you may know I live in Pittsburgh. This weekend our community suffered a horrible traumatic mass shooting at a synagogue in a city neighborhood, killing mostly elders at Saturday Shabbat. I am not Jewish, nor do I live in that neighborhood, but I am crushed by this hatred. As a city we are still reeling from the shooting in the Tree of Life Synagogue, about 20 minutes from where I live.
Squirrel Hill is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood, but its inclusivity was patterned by the Jewish immigrants who settled here generations ago. It is literally Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood because this was where he lived. Pittsburgh is a big small town and for all the various segregation we’ve suffered in the past this one neighborhood was like magic in its diversity, seeing families walk to Shabbat in long skirts or hats without fear of being harassed, and buildings with Hebrew text, as well as find Vietnamese restaurants, a real French bakery run by a person from France, a gallery with African art and more services for many ethnicities, mixed with national and international students from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh who live in rented apartments there. On the street you can hear any language at any time. Children walk to school, and play in the parks. People are out on the streets walking to and from the last movie at the Manor Theater. Everyone talked to everyone else. I am not a city person, but I enjoyed this neighborhood with its quiet neighborhoods of tree-lined streets and beautiful houses, galleries, performance spaces, shops.
Vigils have brought us together, all races and religions; we are right at the door in times of need.
I was trapping kittens on Saturday when this happened, and still working with them on Sunday, but last night finally wrapped my head around my thoughts about this, and posted this on Facebook:
Look at the ages of the victims of the Tree of Life shooting–the youngest 54, the oldest 97–Rose Mallinger, who lived in Europe during the Holocaust, to be killed in this country known for freedom, in a neighborhood where generations had known safety in worship, this elderly worship community ripped apart, their daily security, and no doubt several long-time friends, gone, children and grandchildren losing a generation in a way that will always be a painful memory, another chapter in their family’s history. Remember these people, never forget that the fingers of hatred grip and strangle more than those who died here.
Complacency is complicity, never let hatred take hold, even in a single word.
Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland
Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township
Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood
Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill
David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill
(Cecil and David Rosenthal are brothers)
Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg
Sylvan Simon, 87, of Wilkinsburg
(Bernice and Sylvan are husband and wife)
Daniel Stein , 71, of Squirrel Hill
Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill
Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington
Here are a few articles about the neighborhood, and fundraisers, which also tell a story:
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