Pittsburgh community gathers to break ground on new Tree of Life Synagogue project

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh community came together on Sunday to go down the path toward healing and transformation after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.

People packed into a tent on the grounds of the Tree of Life Synagogue. Members of the congregation, politicians, faith leaders, survivors and their families gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony.

PHOTOS: Pittsburgh community gathers to break ground on new Tree of Life Synagogue project

“My hope is that this new chapter will be an opportunity to welcome more people in just as my brothers Cecil and David once welcomed everyone who came here to the Tree of Life,” said Diane Rosenthal.

The site will now become a new building and stand as a memorial.

“We carry with us in our hearts the 11 who were taken from us. Honoring them in everything we do,” said Carole Zawatsky, CEO of the Tree of Life.

The new building will house a sanctuary for the Tree of Life congregation, an education center dedicated to combating bigotry and a museum dedicated exclusively to chronicling the long history of antisemitism in America, which will be the first of its kind in the country.

PHOTOS: Renderings of new Tree of Life building

“I feel it was important to come and send a message to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and to the country and to the entire world that we must never forget. We must never forget what poison, what antisemitism can do,” said Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.

Victims families, survivors and leaders joined the stage to break glass -- a tradition at Jewish wedding ceremonies to remember the pain of the past and the broken world amid great joy.

“We will dance once again,” said Jeffrey Soloman, Vice Chair of the Tree of Life “because -- while there’s joy in *this moment -- there’s been heartache in the journey to get here.”

Governor Josh Shapiro also visited Pittsburgh to attend the event. He called for Pittsburgh to carry on the memory of the people killed in the tragedy.

“Each of us has a responsibility to continue to share the stories of that day of the people we lost and of the resilience that followed,” Gov. Shapiro said.

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