Community Issues

California Synagogue Shooting a Painful Deja Vu for Pittsburgh

Tree of Life congregations reach out with messages of support to California Jews

Weeks ago, organizers planned an interfaith ceremony to remember and honor the 11 worshipers who were killed in the massacre six months earlier at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Little did they know that they would not only be remembering that anniversary but mourning another attack on a house of worship. One person was killed and three injured at an attack on Chabad of Poway, California, six months to the day of the attack on Tree of Life.

Hundreds of people of all faiths gathered Sunday in Squirrel Hill for an event that. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports was "part interfaith ceremony, part tearful remembrance of the 11 worshipers slain just over six months ago in the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, and part march and call to action on gun control legislation."

For some, the "Looking Back, Marching Forward" event took on additional urgency in light of the San Diego area shooting. "Just when you think you've come to grips with the last horrible event that happened because of easy access to firearms... something else comes up and takes its place," said Rob Conroy, director of organizing for the anti-gun-violence group CeaseFire PA, which helped to organize the event.

"We shouldn't have to be here today. But we absolutely have to be here today." Dan Leger, Tree of Life shooting survivor

Following the service, people marched to Pittsburgh's Schenley Park for a tree-planting ceremony. The P-G reports earlier, on Saturday, a smaller group gathered at Tree of Life for a vigil for the Calfornia victims. "My words of 'never again' have disappeared from my language," Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers told the crowd. "They've been replaced with 'yet again."

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