Rabbi of Tree of Life often thinks about that terrible day

Rabbi of Tree of Life often thinks about that terrible day

PITTSBURGH — It’s been two years since that horrific day.

Two years ago a man, filled with hate, burst into the Tree of Life sanctuary and opened fire on a Shabbat morning service, killing 11 innocent worshippers just because they were Jewish.

The rabbi of the synagogue, Jeffrey Myers, was there.

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“Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. Sometimes it feels like it’s been 10 years, if not longer,” Myers told Channel 11 News anchor David Johnson.

Myers said this past year has been a “re-traumatization” for him and his congregation because Tree of Life has now been displaced a second time.

“There is no playbook for a rabbi of a congregation that had a massacre. There is no playbook for working through a pandemic,” Myers said.

Johnson asked him how often he thinks about that terrible day.

“Every minute of every single day,” he said. "The reminders are there every single day. Not just merely because I’m home, reminders in my hall, but when you drive around town, you see the stronger than ‘H’ signs on people’s lawns and the businesses. I appreciate that. I know what they mean by that. Or you can see from my background, the Tree of Life. I drive by it, it’s going to remind me. "

Before Oct. 27, 2018, Myers wondered why God sent him to Pittsburgh. He’d never been here. Why to Tree of Life?

“After Oct. 27 I came to understand God had a mission for me. It was to help the congregation heal through this and rebuild,” Myers said. “My God is the one I turn to after Oct. 27 to give me comfort and sustain me, to give me hope to help direct me to say and do the right things.”

Myers told Johnson that he’s excited for what he believes will be a bright future for his congregation. And he’s anticipating “a wow moment” when building plans for the new Tree of Life are unveiled.

“Not ‘wow’ because of any architectural elements, though I would hope people would say it’s beautiful. The ‘wow moment’ would be look at what happened to them, ‘Look at what they created.’ That ‘wow moment’ to say Tree of Life has been here 156 years. I want Tree of Life to be here another 156 years,” Myers said.

What the Tree of Life will look like, eventually, is still being discussed by the congregation and community leaders.

Pittsburgh pauses to reflect, remembering lives lost at Tree of Life 2 years ago