June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

TABC Students Mark Second Anniversary of Pittsburgh Tree of Life Massacre

Students in. Chanan Strassman’s Chumash class marked the second yahrzeit of the 11 Jews who were murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh by hosting Rabbi Daniel Wasserman via Zoom. As the Rabbi at Shaare Torah Congregation in Squirrel Hill, and a leading member of the local Chevra Kadisha, Rabbi Wasserman shared personal reflections on his involvement after the massacre. He described the tension he felt between needing to explain the chevra’s function once it had been thrust into the media, while also needing to be respectful and operate with sensitivity and privacy. He challenged the class to take an honest look at Jewish life in exile, while inspiring them with his heartfelt recollections of communal support from that emotional time.

Rabbi Wasserman invited questions from the students, and junior Matti Cohen asked how we might see the existence and oneness of God in the face of such overwhelming tragedy. Rabbi Wasserman suggested that we focus on the community’s response, such as the volunteers who waited out in the pouring rain during the early morning hours just in case the FBI would allow them to assist in any way with the task of bringing the 11 kedoshim to rest. Rabbi Wasserman emphasized that “chesed shel emet” can mean performing a chesed simply because it must be done, no matter how difficult, and that we can all train ourselves to act in this way by developing our “peripheral vision” to notice others outside of ourselves who may be in need. It was a moving conversation that gave everyone much to think about.

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