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On October 27, 2018, a white supremacist gunman attacked Jewish worshippers in the Tree of Life synagogue building, leaving 11 dead and two wounded. Five first responders were also injured. The three congregations holding services in the building – Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash – all lost beloved members. They are:

Joyce Fienberg
Richard Gottfried
Rose Mallinger
Jerry Rabinowitz
Cecil and David Rosenthal
Bernice and Sylvan Simon
Daniel Stein
Melvin Wax
Irving Younger

May their memories be for a blessing.

 

Gifts left on the sidewalk outside of the synagogue building in the hours, days and weeks after the worst antisemitic attack in U.S. history brought us much comfort. Thank you.

Immediately after the shooting, well-wishers deposited gifts, cards and flowers outside the synagogue to offer support for all three congregations affected by this tragedy. After nearly three weeks, volunteers from each of the congregations lovingly gathered hundreds of objects, most left anonymously, from among the heaps of flowers. Additional offerings appeared at the site later and others were mailed or personally delivered to the congregations. These expressions of support gave us hope during a traumatic time. Now we want to share that hope and inspire others to both see and be the good in a world that is often dark.

Photos by Brian Cohen and Laurie Eisenberg

The Sidewalk Stories Project is a crowd-sourced endeavor to share hope and inspiration today, and ensure that history will record for tomorrow not only the attack, but also its staunch repudiation by the thousands who said no to hatred and yes to love.

Scholars will study and write about the details of this brutal anti-Semitic assault for decades to come. When they do, they must be made aware of the heartening responses from thousands of people from all communities and walks-of-life, whose actions inspire us to lift one another up, and stand together against all forms of hatred, bigotry and prejudice.  They must also take note of the response of the affected congregations, who deliberately evolved from victims of hate to allies of all who fight against it.

click below to Browse the Story Gallery for inspiration,
or to submit new stories and photos to inspire others
 

The Sidewalk Stories Project consists of a gallery of photos and backstories of objects left on the sidewalk after the attack. The original items retrieved from the sidewalk are being preserved and will be made accessible to researchers, historians and members of the public. The photos and stories included in the project are curated and edited by Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg, Teaching Professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University and board member of Tree of Life Congregation. Her companion essay to the Sidewalk Stories Project, “Telling Their Stories,” appears in Bound in the Bond of Life, edited by Beth Kisseloff and Eric Lidji (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), available on Amazon. Book clubs may find its collection of short essays an excellent catalyst for meaningful discussion.

We encourage teachers, faith leaders, and community groups to invite students and members to browse the online gallery and discuss the feelings and lessons they take away. The themes running through the very brief stories and the impact of the rich, colorful photographs lend themselves to important conversations about how we treat one another and what moves people to comfort and stand up for victims of all forms of hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

 

THE TREE OF LIFE SIDEWALK MEMORIAL STORY PROJECT

An essay by Prof. Eisenberg published prior to the collection of the backstories is online at https://politicalandlegalanthro.org/2019/03/23/memorializing-the-memorial-to-the-tree-of-life-shooting/

For an earlier, uplifting public art project by Congregations Tree of Life, New Light and Dor Hadash in the wake of the attack, visit the "HeartsTogether Gallery" at https://www.treeoflifepgh.org/heartstogether.

Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784