May 21, 2024
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Bruriah Students Join Pittsburgh CommUnity Shabbaton

In response to the shooting at the Tree of Life shul in Pittsburgh, 10 Bruriah students joined the Pittsburgh community on a recent Shabbat, to join with fellow Jews in giving strength to the community. The theme for the Hillel Academy of Greater Pittsburgh CommUnity Shabbaton was that achdut strengthens the Jewish nation. The Bruriah students were joined by students from Hillel Academy and Kosloff Torah Academy High School for Girls (KTA) for a weekend-long commemoration of the 11 victims of the shooting and an opportunity to see how the community has unified even more since then.

It was an emotional rollercoaster between having fun and getting to know one another; and having serious, raw discussions with the victim’s families. In particular, the students heard from Devorah Kurin, the niece of Joyce Feinstein, one of the 11 victims. Kurin’s perspective made what happened personal to each individual, not just a statistic or a headline in the newspaper. The students also toured the inside of the Tree of Life shul and saw how people memorialized the victims. It was important to see how real this event was and that the shooter didn’t focus on how religious the congregants were. He simply wanted to kill Jews—period. How much more so should Jews themselves unite because we’re alive and proud to be Jews.

Over Shabbat, the students heard from a panel of women who spoke about leadership and its role in helping the community. A tremendous amount of chesed came from within the Pittsburgh community and worldwide—with people stepping up to make sure no detail was overlooked—to aide in the communal and personal recovery and grieving. The main message was not to wait for a dire moment to suddenly become a leader; there’s never a time when help isn’t needed.

We are commanded in the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael, to love our fellow Jew. The root of the Hebrew word for love, “ahava,” is “hav,,” which means to give. One comes to love someone through generosity and giving. This mitzvah is strongly upheld in the Pittsburgh community, which exhibited it through the open arms and warmth extended to the Bruriah students. May we all merit to reach a place of love and devotion to one another through giving and through our connection with Hashem, and may the Jewish nation rebuilds stronger in the aftermath of tragedy.

By Yael Schneider (‘20)

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