Dr. Michelle Friedman Main Speaker at Philadelphia’s City Hall Tree of Life Commemoration

November 1, 2019

Philadelphia Commemorates One-Year Mark of Pittsburgh Shooting

By Jesse Bernstein

The drive from Center City, Philadelphia, to the Tree of Life synagogue building in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh is a straightforward one, even if it’s a bit long. From the Jewish Community Services Building at 2100 Arch St., you just hop on I-76 W and leave your foot on the pedal; in five hours, you get off 76, and there you are, at the corner of Wilkins and Shady avenues. It’s only about a 300-mile drive.

It is partly this proximity that explains why last year’s attack on the building, which left 11 Jews dead at the hands of a man screaming, “All Jews must die,” struck a unique chord in Philadelphia. Besides being in-state, it took place in a walkable, tight-knit Jewish community, not unlike many in the Philadelphia area.

It is not surprising, then, that synagogues and Jewish groups across Philadelphia commemorated the one-year mark of the Oct. 27, 2018 attack on the three congregations. At City Hall, leaders from the American Jewish Committee Philadelphia led a group, including several City Council members, in a short commemorative event, also announcing the reignition of their “#ShowUpForShabbat” initiative; City Councilman Allan Domb read kaddish for his father, and for those killed in the shooting.

Following these addresses, Rabbi Daniel Levitt introduced the main speaker of the evening, Dr. Michelle Friedman, chair of pastoral counseling at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, where Levitt is her student.

Friedman’s area of expertise, Steinberg-Egeth noted, fit in perfectly with the theme of the evening as she combines study of psychology and psychoanalysis with Jewish principles. In other words, Steinberg-Egeth said, she helps future rabbis figure out how to have difficult conversations.

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