The Tree of Life One Year Later: Remember, Reflect and Renew: A Panel Discussion of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA

On Oct. 27, 2018, a gunman stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where members of the Jewish community were at Saturday morning prayer. Using an AR-15 assault rifle, he opened fire, killing eleven people and wounding six others. It was the worst attack on a Jewish community in U.S. history.

While this act of violence most directly affected the families of the victims and the members of the synagogue, it also had a profound impact on the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the synagogue is located, and indeed on the entire greater Pittsburgh region. Our panel discussion focused on how the larger community has responded to the tragedy, and examined the ways that people of faith can continue to stand together in mutual support, against violence and antisemitism.

It is essential that we remember those who have died; we must also reflect on what we have learned about the nature and causes of bigotry and antisemitism, and what we can do to combat them; and finally, we must pledge to renew our commitment to support the community, and one another, to heal.

Our panel included:

  • Bishop Edward C. Malesic of the Diocese of Greensburg;
  • Dr. Lauren Bairnsfather, Director of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh;
  • Rabbi Sara Perman, Rabbi Emerita of the Congregation Emanu-El Israel.
  • Laurie Fox, Coordinator of Music Therapy at Seton Hill University.

Dr. James Paharik, Director of the Center, facilitated the discussion.

At the event, Bishop Malesic presented a painting that the Diocese had commissioned. The painting of the “Lion and the Lamb,” was done by local artist Caitlin Solan. It was accepted by Dr. Bairnsfather on behalf of the Tree of Life community.