Evil Did Not Win”: Tree of Life Synagogue Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Building

The groundbreaking ceremony for the reborn Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill was a poignant moment that honored the past while marking a new chapter for the congregation. Just under six years ago, an antisemitic gunman killed 11 Jews at the same site. Now, the resilience of the Tree of Life members and the two other congregations attacked on October 27, 2018, was evident as they gathered to announce to the world: “Evil did not win.”

The approximately 500 attendees stood beneath a massive white tent on Wilkins Avenue, where a portion of the former synagogue once stood. Demolition of that section, where the attack occurred, took place earlier this year. Renowned architect Daniel Libeskind’s design for the new structure will soon rise in its place, featuring a memorial, a center for Jewish life, a museum and education center, and an institute for countering hate and antisemitism. While the exact timeline for the building’s opening remains to be determined, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers expressed hope that the community would be welcomed back in 2½ years.


“As we embark on this next chapter in our journey forward, our hope is that the Tree of Life becomes a beacon of hope, a symbol of resilience in this community,” said Jeffrey Solomon, a board member of the Tree of Life rebuilding committee. The project received substantial financial support from various donors, including 10 entities contributing over $1 million and 41 organizations and individuals donating more than $100,000.

The Tree of Life community’s strength and determination serve as a testament to overcoming tragedy and rebuilding with hope. The new structure will stand as a reminder that love and unity can triumph over hatred.


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