Jewish Studies Statement on the Tragic Events at Tree of Life

The members of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh are sad, appalled, and alarmed at the deadly violence directed at the Jewish community in our city. We offer our condolences to the families and friends of those who died in last Saturday’s attack, on October 27. We are proud to be part of this warm and close community, and we are in awe at the courage of the congregants and of Rabbi Perlman of the New Light Congregation, Cheryl Klein of Dor Hadash, and Rabbi Meyer of the Tree of Life congregation all housed within the Tree of Life building. We are grateful to the first responders who came so swiftly to the defense of those gathering at that synagogue last Shabbat.

The shooter targeted Tree of Life because Dor Hadash had recently hosted a Shabbat service in support of refugees, the congregation having partnered with HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), a Jewish-founded nonprofit that has helped to resettle refugees from around the world—starting with Russian Jews fleeing pogroms in 1881. Jewish safety is evidently connected to that of other vulnerable minorities.

The Jewish Studies program teaches about the Jewish past, Jewish languages and culture, and about Jewish religious practices. Our faculty carry out research in these areas and in many disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, social work, and law. Jewish Studies draws strength from the Pittsburgh Jewish community and in turn strives to serve it with programs on topics such as art, contemporary problems and politics, and the history and memory of the Holocaust among others. We will continue to pursue our educational mission with all the more focus after this brutal assault on the local Jewish community and amid rising levels of antisemitism around the world.

Jewish Studies Program, University of Pittsburgh -