A CITY IN MOURNING
A City in Mourning
VOL. 1 Special Online Edition â–¶ Nov. 1-6 2018
The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting
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A CITY IN MOURNING
Special Online Issue, Nov. 1, 2018 Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com Associate Publisher: Bethany Ruhe Bethany@pittsburghcurrent.com
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THE TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING
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A CITY IN MOURNING
Victims remembered a
Mourners gather outside the Tree of Life Synagogue to lay memorials to the fallen. (Pittsburgh Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
Vigils, memorials and kind words part of the grieving process Amanda Reed Pittsburgh Current Staff WriterStaff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org David DeFelice says Cecil Rosenthal was the kind of person who would stand up to someone shooting at an entire congregation of people. “He knew when somebody was doing something wrong and he wasn’t afraid to say something about it,” the senior political science major at Duquesne University said Sunday evening. 4 | NOV. 1, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
Rosenthal and his brother, David, were among the 11 victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill. But they were more than victims to those who knew them. They were friends, coworkers, dentists, researchers, doctors and much more. In the days since the shooting, an entire city has come together to to honor their lives and legacies by sharing their stories through vigils and memorials. The memorials have come in all forms, from
flowers and signs in front of the synagogue to remembrances on social media. “Thank you Dr. [Jerry] Rabinowitiz for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life. You will be remembered by me always,” Michael Kerr wrote on his Facebook page Sunday. Rabinowitz was known in the Pittsburgh community for his kindness while serving serve those with HIV/ AIDS, often not wearing gloves when holding their hands.
THE TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING
s a community heals Daniel Stein was a past president of his congregation and, according to news accounts, died in the same room that his grandson’s bris was held. “Our lives now are going to have to take a different path, one that we thought would not happen for a long time,” Joe Stein, son of Daniel Stein, wrote on his Facebook page. “My dad was a simple man and did not require much.” Local universities were also affected by the tragedies, with two of the victims having connections to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Richard Gottfried graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and received his doctorate in dentistry from the School of Dental Medicine in 1980. His wife, Dr. Margaret “Peg” A. Durachko, graduated from the School of Dental Medicine in 1981. They shared a dental practice together, serving West View and the North Hills. Dr. Deborah Studen-Pavlovich, professor, chair, and residency program director of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, was Gottfried’s classmate. They became friends after joining the American Society of Dentistry for Children while in dental school and remained friends after, seeing each other at class reunions. “I am numb,” she said Sunday evening. “He was a good person; he gave back too; he was a good dentist and he was good to his family.” Joyce Fienberg worked in the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburgh from 1983 until her retirement in 2008. She specialized in researching the process of classroom teaching. Charles Perfetti, director of the
do. It really breaks my heart that somebody could be so cruel in this world,” she said. The tragedy especially hit close to home for some, losing longtime friends, community members and even family. Jill Smith, a 59-year-old resident from Squirrel Hill, knew Irving Younger for 25 years. He volunteered as a coach for a kid’s baseball team in the neighborhood and at Taylor Allderdice High School. He coached her son.
A woman is consoled at aa vigil Oct. 28 at Soldiers and Sailors Hall in Oakland. (Current Photo by John Altdorfer)
LRDC, remembers Fienberg’s “nice, quiet dignity” during their brief interactions in the office before he stepped into his current role. “I found her to be an engaging and warm person and she had a certain elegant style that was maybe above-average for an academic environment where people are not always elegant and stylish,” he said. Fienberg’s husband was the late Stephen E. Fienberg, a former professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon. He died in 2016 and his funeral was held at the Tree of Life Synagogue. At a vigil Monday evening at Carnegie Mellon University, President Farnam Jahanian said he saw Fienberg at a symposium at CMU the day before the attack, where they met and caught up. He says the shooting was an attack on the American way of life. “The Tree of Life is rooted in love, not in fear,” he said. In the days following the shoot-
ing, mourners passed by the Tree of Life Synagogue to honor those lost, placing flowers, pictures and candles at each of the 11 Star of David-shaped memorials bearing the name of each victim. Leanne Libert, 37, from Friendship, brought a bouquet to place at Dr. Rabinowitz’s marker Monday evening, but said she might spread it out for the other 10 people. Libert only met Rabinowitz once at a party celebrating the wedding of her cousin Stacey, who had been with her partner for 20 years, but remembers his warm laugh and ability to turn an awkward silence into a jovial conversation. “He knew how to get a joke going to bring the room back together,” she said. Tracy Heath, a 63-year-old from Brentwood, Says she was moved by the Rosenthal brothers. Her daughter works with people with intellectual disabilities — people much like Cecil and David. “I feel for the families. I really
Julianna Hawke, a 31-yearold resident from Crafton, was a distant relative of Irving Younger. Younger’s wife was cousins with Hawke’s father. When Hawke’s parents divorced, the Youngers helped Julianna, her mother and her siblings get back on their feet, with Irv a constant presence when the Youngers babysat them. “I remember being at their house often, I remember playing on their trampoline, I remember their beautiful furnished basement. I also remember my mom telling us we were going to have a home again, seeing it for the first time, helping them prepare it for us to move in...I remember how much I loved that house, how grateful we were for it,” she said in an email Monday. Jason Callen 35, from Irwin, knew two of the police officers who were wounded during the shooting. One officer was in the Air Force Reserves with Callen and the other’s partner was a friend of his. He expressed a sentiment many have repeated in the days after the shooting: that this is not something you expect to happen here. “This is a nice area and we all work together. I’m a nurse. I work with all denominations and we take care of everybody,” he said, holding back tears. PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOV. 1, 2018 | 5
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Poetic Healing By Jody DiPerna Pittsburgh Current Lit Writer email@example.com
eral collections of poetry, including Jackknife and The Switching/Yard. She is the director of the MFA program at Carlow College.
In light of Saturday morning’s all-too-inevitable and all-too predictable tragedy at Tree of Life Synagogue, I thought long and hard about covering books for the Pittsburgh Current. Why do the work? Does it even matter? Shouldn’t I be out on the street doing … something? Yes. But reading also matters. Writing and writers are important parts of any resistance and progress. They document what is happening. They help us learn empathy. They can encourage us. Sometimes they shine light in little corners to help us see. We can learn who we are and what we think through reading. The language of truth is a strong weapon against language which is used to incite and mislead. At times like these, our thoughts can be storm clouds of pain, rage and hopelessness. It’s easy to get lost. Because poetry demands an acute specificity of language, it is uniquely positioned to grapple with questions of life and death, of unspeakable evil and pain, of the beauty of communities coming together, and why (and how) we keep going in our absolute worst moments. I reached out to several poets via telephone in the days after the massacre at Tree of Life. Here’s what they had to offer in the wake of tragedy.
“It is a stunning time. It stops me in my tracks. The other night, watching the first vigil in Squirrel Hill and watching the young students really got to me. Hopefully I’m not going to cry right now. “I obviously believe in poetry as a way to say what needs to be said no matter what it is. I feel it frees us up to be alive. You never know where people are going to find their hope or their purpose or their belief in things. You don’t know who is out there. We need each other -we need real voices saying real things.” “I go back to my teacher Ed Ochester. There’s one line in one of his poems, ‘That’s when I decided I would never be cruel to anyone.’ I always go back to that line. [His poetry] has a lot of difficulty which is real life. I’m not looking to escape that. That sense of the real is what seems to save me. “The poets are needed. There are prison poets who have written things on their hands, on bars of soap. Anna Akhmatova [the great Russian poet] — there’s a famous line where people asked her, can you describe this abuse and use of torture? And she said, yes I can. You say it, but you need to write it down. There are much greater prices to pay in other places. I think it’s important that we here in this privileged place keep writing.”
Local poet and educator Jan Beatty was the host of the Prosody poetry radio broadcast from 2006-2017. She is the author of sev6 | NOV. 1, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
Tracy K. Smith is the U.S. poet laureate. She teaches creative writing at Princeton University. (She taught at the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 and 2005.) Her newest
collection of poetry is Wade in the Water, a breathtaking work of beauty and turbulence. “I know it’s hard to think without a sense of shame, in a way, that poems don’t do more. But I feel really convinced of what they do do. I feel like on one level, an event like a massacre puts us in need of some kind of anchoring. I think that poems are good at offering a kind of consolation, at turning our attention toward what to me feels like the largeness that we contain, as well as the largeness that we are looking for in other places. I think poems allow us to name what we value, what we feel, what we love. Poems help us to form a vocabulary for loss, for rage, for hope. They do that in ways that aren’t pat. It’s not just about saying love, love, love, love, love. Poems are rigorous with our feelings. “Then there’s this other thing. There’s the world. And there are a lot of people who don’t care about poetry. They’re not looking to change. I have this idea that there is a lot of energy that we are receptive to without realizing it or that we are subject to the effect of. We live in a world right now, in a period, where we’re overwhelmed with evidence of so much negativity, so much hatred, so much fear. One way of reacting to that is to be more fearful and frustrated and angry. I think another way, what I’m struggling to do, is to think about what kinds of good I can offer. Is compassion toward somebody who is capable of doing something evil -- is that a feeling that I could fathom? Is putting a sense of love or hope into play a discernible good? I believe those things are important. The kind of psychic struggle to do something that feels counter-intuitive but poems are really good at moving us through the
simple logical routes tha in guiding us toward som struggle and, ideally, som “I feel more energize on the road and read po America is hurting. Ame some cases, of looking a again and again. And I’m understand what I can d help others to do the sam
Diane Glancy often reflects her Native Ame Cherokee, and of Engli descent, Glancy has ser dence for the Oklahom (traveling around the st Native American stude tion mentor at Carlow’s will be teaching in Pitts 2019.
“I think poetry often it. It uncovers the interio we live and which goes b America has a western f having a gun in their ho for years. There’s an und It’s in human nature. The human nature -- loss and that I think poetry reach been a stabilizer. It’s been It points out that we are ordinary life. There is an can be quite fierce and d strength in its language t and expose them, so tha what we are about as hu
at we habitually follow mething that involves me kind of revelation. ed right now to go back oems that are saying, erica is unwilling, in at what it has done, m part of that. I want to do differently that might me.”
creates work that erican heritage. Part ish and German rved as artist-in-resima State Arts Council tate to teach poetry to ents.) She is a nonfic’s MFA program and sburgh in January,
n has a turbulence in or landscape in which back historically, too. frontier with everybody ouse. That’s been with us dercurrent of violence. ere are other parts in d hurt and wounding -hes very well. It’s always n a healing process. about more than just n inner landscape and it daunting. Poetry has the to reach those places at we know more about uman beings.
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“I know that poetry to many people seems inactive and stupid. I’ve been around enough to know that. But what poetry does -- it gets in the inner being so that you become an understanding, responsible human being. [It addresses] things that need to be thought about and examined and probed; it’s about facing discomfort. That’s exactly what poetry does. I don’t know that I will sit down and write a poem about mass murder, but I certainly have written about serious things. There are many avenues to get through this and one of them is poetry.” THE WORLD IS YOUR BEAUTIFUL YOUNGER SISTER -- Tracy K. Smith Seeing her as seldom as you do, it doesn’t change, The ire, the shame, the fists you must remember To smooth flat just thinking what they did, What they promised, then took -- those men Who offered to pay, to keep, the clan of them Lording it over the others like high school boys And their kid brothers. Men with interests to protect, And mute marble wives. Men who let her Beam into their faces, watching her shoulders rise, Her astonishing new breasts, making her believe It was she who gave permission. They plundered her youth, then moved on. Those awful, awful men. The ones Whose wealth is a kind of filth.
Poetry Workshop at the Homeless Shelter -Jan Beatty So I’m the white teacher reading some Etheridge Knight poems to the four residents who showed: For Black Poets Who Think of Suicide -- thinking these guys have seen it all and want something hard-core, when a black man named Tyrone raises his hand: These poems offend me They do? I say. Yes, I was raised not to curse, and I don’t see why a poem has to use those words. What poems do you like? Langston Hughes. Yeah, someone else says, Jean Toomer, man. Tyrone says, Let’s talk about calculating a poem. Pardon me, I say -You know, cipherin a poem -Why don’t you show me? Tyrone draws this two dimensional image of this three dimensional grid, based on numerology, he says, in which each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a number. Look, it’s like you start with a 13,25, then go to 8,15,1,18,20 -that’s the start of my first line: ‘My heart opens to a new world’ -- See? I am stunned by it all -- strange genius or just strange? How long have you been writing this way? All my life, but nobody understand it, I got boxes in my room filled with calculations, I got plays and soap operas, and one day I’ll see them.
I’m looking into Tyrone’s eyes, beautiful savant, wondering what to say: I’m standing here in my new Levis and Chuck Taylors, knowing I don’t understand either, and his desire humbles me. Class is ending so I ask him to bring more next week, but he has to see his caseworker about his bad leg, jammed up in a streetbanging in Philly. Now I’m walking out of the shelter, my white skin reminding me how wrong I am most days, thinking about his sweet numbers, his poems luminous with industry. I’m opening the door to my car, counting vowels: 13,25,8,5,1,18,20, my heart stirring in the new world. Where Does the River Go at Night? -- Diane Glancy Yet trouble came— Job 3:26 They started with everything packed but rattled loose shaken came apart turned over uprighted again and then with what was left to see at night the point they started from that morning the going as if slow motion as if now in circles while loss goes by straight. PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOV. 1, 2018 | 7
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THE TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING
Trump visit to Tree of Life Synagogue met with protests By Haley Frederick Pittsburgh Current Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org As President Trump’s plane lands outside Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon, a crowd is already gathering at the intersection of Beechwood and Forbes in Squirrel Hill, just a few blocks away from the Tree of Life Synagogue where 11 Jewish people were murdered on Saturday. It’s a diverse crowd. There are seniors, college students and children. Some heads wear yarmulkes, some wear hijabs and others sport the pink cat-eared hats of the Women’s March. Some chat about the funerals they attended this morning. Some only know of the victims what they have read. All of them have two things in common. First, they are grieving. Pittsburgh has seen the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. A vigil on Sunday night drew thousands of mourners. The funerals of brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal as well as Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz took place today. There are still eight more. “I’ll be going to two funerals tomorrow and one on Friday,” says Davida Fromm. One of the victims was the parent of a classmate of Fromm’s children. Another, the wife of a dear colleague. And another, the grandmother of her daughter’s friend. “We absolutely feel connected in this community, it’s one of the things we love about it,” says Fromm. “But as a result, if one synagogue, if one school, one anything is injured it feels like an attack on our home—on all of us.” The second thing they all have in common is that they do not want President Trump to come to Pittsburgh. But, he is here. And so are they. The street rapidly fills with people. Many of them are holding homemade signs that express why they feel President Trump is unwelcome. “Neonazis are not ‘very fine people,’” one sign reads. “We do bridges not walls,” reads another. Fromm’s sign says, “words matter.” “It means that you have to be careful what you say so that you don’t insight violence and invite hate and divisiveness and use code words that signal bigotry
and discrimination,” Fromm explains. Many of the people gathered at the Squirrel Hill protest feel that President Trump’s words have incited violence. Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh, the local affiliate of the national Jewish group, organized the peaceful event, which they called a “collective ritual to heal and to mourn.”. Tammy Hepps and Rachel Kranson took to the microphone to read Bend the Arc’s letter to President Trump. “For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” they read. “You yourself called the murderer evil, but [Saturday’s] violence is the direct culmination of your influence.” And the words the president hasn’t said, refuses to say, ring just as loud. “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism,” their letter continues. Song sheets are distributed through the crowd so that all of the attendees can join together in song as they begin to march in the direction of the synagogue where Trump is due to visit along with the First Lady, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. “I will build this world from love...And you must build this world from love...And if we build this world from love...Then God will build this world from love,” the people sing as they march through the streets, escorted by police. The leaders stop everyone to congregate at the corner of Shady Avenue and Northumberland Street. The Tree of Life Synagogue is now a block away, but the street is closed off to make room for the motorcade that carries President Trump to the scene. Small black squares of paper have been handed out to all of the attendees, who number in the thousands. The crowd is instructed to lift them up in unison, and then to tear them apart. This is Kriah, a Jewish tradition and a ritual of mourning. Kriah is a Hebrew word that means “tearing.” The tearing of one’s clothes is an expression of grief and anger that is traced back to the patriarch Jacob, who tore his garments when he believed his son Joseph was dead. Marchers are led in Kriah, a traditional Jewish
mourning ceremony. (Pittsburgh Current Photos by Jake Mysliwczyk) Kriah is always performed while standing, because the act of standing represents strength in a time of grief. The march continues to Murray Avenue, past Squirrel Hill homes decorated for Halloween. The crowd is full of images. On signs and on shirts, there are Stars of David, Pride flag rainbows, cardigan-clad Mr. Rogers, yellow bridges and that angry, orange face. The marchers reach their final destination at the Sixth Presbyterian Church. They converge on the stairs up to the building and overflow onto the intersection. They are still singing. Jaime Forrest of Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh welcomes everyone to the church and thanks them for their support of the Jewish community in Squirrel Hill “We started this event on Beechwood Boulevard which is where Mr. Rogers used to live, and now we’re ending this event at the church where Mr. Rogers used to pray,” Forrest says. “Pittsburgh is as so many people say, the friendliest city in the country, and we are all steadfastly determined to keep it that way. Love thy neighbor—no exceptions.” Several speakers address the crowd at Sixth Presbyterian, both members of the Jewish community and their allies. They condemn the actions of Trump and his administration at roughly the same time he is being escorted into the Tree of Life. They demand change. They call the crowd to action beyond thoughts and prayers. The crowd chants, “vote!” Two high school juniors, Simone and Anya, are co-leaders of the local chapter of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a national organization that works to bring Muslim and Jewish women together. “There is a before and there is an after. We are in the after,” Simone says. “Things won’t be the same. Things shouldn’t be the same.”
(Opposite Page: Thousands of protesters gather in opposition to President Trump’s synagogue visit Tuesday. Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk) PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOV. 1, 2018 | 9
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