Remembering the Tree of Life tragedy

One year ago Sunday, an unfathomable tragedy brought the world to a halt, and it all happened in a city many Waynesburg University students call home. 

Last year on Oct. 27, the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrell Hill section of Pittsburgh was the sight of the deadliest anti-Semitic act in American history. 11 people, who came into the Synagogue to worship on a Saturday morning in fall ended up dying because of a senseless act. Pittsburgh became a gumbo of sadness, horror, anger, shock and any other emotion under the sun. Yet, through the misery, the city banded together. 

A little more than 24 hours after the horror seized the world on the last Saturday of October, the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field, roughly 10 miles away from where the living nightmare transpired the day before. The Steelers logo, one of the most famous in all of the sports, had a unique twist to it this Sunday. The symbol of Pittsburgh football merged with the number one symbol of the Jewish faith, the Star of David. In this image were three words that became a rallying cry for the city: “Stronger than Hate.”

For students and faculty at Waynesburg University, even the ones who aren’t from Pittsburgh or even near it, the Tree of Life struck a different chord. Our campus is a little more than an hour away from Pittsburgh. Many school events presented by the Student Activities Board take place in the city. Those attending Waynesburg University as students, or working there as employees, grow familiar with “The Steel City” real quick, and without that familiarity, it’s hard to know what the unimaginable does to that community. Last October, we saw what happens when a national tragedy happens locally. 

Late October will forever be a time where the events of 2018 are especially prevalent. Regardless of the season, whether the roads are covered with ice, or backyards are hosting BBQ’s or if the bears are awakening in the springtime, the events of Oct. 27, 2018 should always be on our minds. This holds true whether a person has black and gold pulsating through their veins, or if they have no association with the City of Pittsburgh whatsoever. 

We must remember what happened on that awful morning and how Pittsburgh came together in the face of evil. Most importantly, we must remember the names of those who died and their families; Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Melvin Wax, Daniel Stien, Irving Younger, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Cecil Rosenthal.