Community Issues

Episcopal Church Opens Doors to Synagogue Targeted in Mass Shooting

Tree of Life Synagogue congregations needed a host for High Holy Days, so Episcopal neighbors said "you're welcome here."

When a man opened fire in Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last October, killing 11 worshippers, the entire city mourned with and supported the three Jewish congregations that worshipped there. That neighborhood support continues, including helping the congregations with a space that can accomodate the Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur holidays, which begin at sundown Sunday.

The Tree of Life Synagogue building (above) in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood has been sealed off since the attack. The congregations have been worshiping elsewhere, but to come together for the Jewish High Holy Days they needed a larger space. Last October their neighbor, Calvary Episcopal Church made a promise. "We offered to them any space we may have," the Rev. Jonathon Jensen told KDKA-TV's Jon Delano .

The Tree of Life congregations have accepted Calvary's offer of their sanctuary, which can easily accommodate the 800 people expected to attend services. As of Friday, KDKA reports, the Ark with the scrolls of the Torah had arrived at Calvary's sanctuary (below), along with a prayer desk which will replace the Christian altar, prayer shawls and special artwork.

Not only has the Calvary congregation offered their space, 30 parishioners have volunteered as ushers and guides for Jewish worshipers who will be unfamiliar with their building.

"That's what we are called to do, to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves."

The differences in beliefs between the congregations are inconsequential. They are our neighbors as Pittsburghers," Rev. Jenson told KDKA.

Isn't that what community is all about? A place where neighbors help each other no matter the situation, whether it's standing together, stronger than hate -- or in this case, celebration!

(Calvary images: Calvary Episcopal Church Facebook page )

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