Representatives of KKL-JNF in Israel outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Just before 10:00 AM on the morning of Saturday, October 27, a hate-filled man burst into the Tree of Life - Or L'Simcha Congregation in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. As he screamed “All Jews must die!” he murdered eleven worshipers in cold blood and wounded many others, including police officers who eventually apprehended the shooter. All the victims were cherished members of this close-knit Jewish community, and the massacre shocked Jewish communities in the USA, Israel and throughout the world.
At a memorial and solidarity event that took place in Jerusalem on October 29 in memory of the victims, KKL-JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar said in his speech:
“Antisemitism is an incurable disease. The murderer who took the lives of eleven of our brothers and sisters did not distinguish between the various Jewish religious denominations; the fact that they were Jews sufficed to sentence them all to a terrible death.”
Ronnie Vinnikov, Executive Director of the KKL-JNF Resource Development Division, asked KKL-JNF representatives in the USA to convey KKL-JNF’s support and solidarity to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. KKL-JNF’s mission is to help serve as a two-way bridge between Jewish communities throughout the world and Israel, and a deep sense of shared responsibility for the Jewish people and the Jewish state is an essential component of the organization’s DNA. KKL-JNF Emissary to New England Dar Nadler; KKL-JNF Emissary to Forida Zohar Vloski; and JNF USA Pittsburgh Region Director Amy Cohen went to embrace, comfort and bring a message of solidarity to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh.
Zohar Vloski: “We participated in the funeral of Rose Mallinger, a Holocaust survivor who lived through the hellish murder of millions of Jews simply because they were Jews. This is the very same reason that decades after the Holocaust, Rose was killed by a modern-day antisemite. It is difficult to express the shock and horror of the Pittsburgh community in words. Even at this difficult time, it is very moving to hear and to see the demonstrations of support and identification with the Pittsburgh community from people in Israel and from all over the world.
“I was one of many people who stayed in Pittsburgh for the Shabbat of November 3 in order to participate in the prayer services at the Tree of Life Congregation, the community where eleven of its branches were brutally cut off last Shabbat. Trees have always been a symbol of life, and planting life-giving trees has been one of KKL-JNF’s major tasks since its inception. We join our brothers and sisters everywhere in prayer that Jewish life should continue to flourish, even in the face of such unspeakable hatred.”
Dar Nadler: “We found a community in shock. Whenever and wherever we said we were from Israel and had come to support and bring comfort, people just hugged us and cried, and told us how grateful they were. I can only hope that we were able to at least somewhat help alleviate their pain.”
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KKL-JNF joins people over the world, Jews and non-Jews, in expressing its solidarity with the members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Am Yisrael Chai – the People of Israel lives!
See more photos, read this article on the KKL-JNF website