Community Issues

Millions Donated After Synagogue Attack Goes to Families

Most of the $6.3m donated after the October 27 massacre will go to families of the 11 killed and to those injured, including police officers.

Most of a $6.3 million fund raised for the victims of the Oct. 27 Tree of Life synagogue shooting will go to the families of the 11 people who were killed and the worshippers and police officers who were wounded. That's the recommendation of an independent committee set up to determine who would get money contributed to the Victims of Terror Fund, created by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to coordinate a worldwide outpouring of donations that followed the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.

$5.3 million from the fund will be distributed as "compassion payments" to those whom the committee determined were most directly affected. They include the families of the eleven people who died, two people who suffered serious physical wounds, and several injured police officers.

"We took great care to talk about what we understood donors were thinking when they gave." David Shapira, Victims of Terror Fund Committee

In their report, committee members wrote that they "carefully considered" how they believed donors intended the funds to be distributed, listened to the perspectives and experiences of a number of victims, considered the availability of other resources, like insurance, to meet certain needs, and also looked at the precedent set by funds established after other mass casualty incidents. "Perhaps the most impactful - and certainly moving - part of our deliberations was meeting with families of those killed and the physically injured," said David Shapira, chairman of Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, who chaired the committee. The committee invited members of the affected congregations to attend their meetings and also provide input.

"The outpouring of support from around the world has been tremendous." Meryl Ainsman, Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh

Meryl Ainsman, who chairs the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Board of Directors, pointed out that only did many individuals give to the Victims of Terror Fund, many organizations sponsored group collections. "I have been inspired by the stories - from professional sports teams doing collections at games, to benefit concerts and 5K runs, and even a youth hockey team raising money for each goal they scored," said Ms. Ainsman.

The independent committee recommended that the additional $1 million donated go to the three affected congregations and toward a future memorial and education efforts about the hate crime. Although the Victims of Terror Fund is now closed you can still contribute to recovery efforts. Find out more by clicking here .

"No amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one's life," the committee report said. "No amount of money can fully compensate for a life that has been violently knocked off course and suddenly filled with unanticipated and daunting obstacles; and no amount of money can ever completely heal our hearts or our communities."

Read the full committee report here .

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