Heinz History Center launches website dedicated to Tree of Life tragedy | Pittsburgh City Paper

Heinz History Center launches website dedicated to Tree of Life tragedy

click to enlarge Heinz History Center launches website dedicated to Tree of Life tragedy
Photo: Courtesy of Heinz History Center
The October 27 Archive by the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives
In the years since the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, considered the worst antisemitic attack in the United States, efforts have been made to ensure that people never forget the victims or the event's impact on Pittsburgh and the world.

In a major move, the Heinz History Center launched The October 27 Archive website, described in a press release as documenting the "incredible outpouring of support for the Jewish community of Pittsburgh from people around Western Pa. and the world."

Officially released this month, the website now has 150 objects "documenting local efforts to heal, to create cross-communal bonds, and to address global antisemitism." Included in the current archive is a selection of flyers and programs from vigils, a comprehensive look at local news coverage related to the event, and a "curated selection of historic photographs and documents from Pittsburgh’s Jewish community."

As previously reported by the Pittsburgh City Paper, the Tree of Life archive project started in November 2018, not long after the shooting occurred.

The website also houses 20 testimonies from the Meanings of October 27th oral history project, a collection of recordings from more than 100 people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, sourced across the region. The first 20 oral histories are currently available on the website.

Run by the Center's Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives, the website will grow to incorporate more of the "tens of thousands of documents, artifacts, and news articles" collected over the years, including more recordings from Meanings of October 27th.
click to enlarge Star of David memorials with the names of the 11 people who were killed at Tree of Life Synagogue, shown outside the Squirrel Hill synagogue
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Star of David memorials with the names of the 11 people who were killed at Tree of Life Synagogue, shown outside the Squirrel Hill synagogue, Oct. 29, 2018
Eric Lidji, director of the Archives, says each object represents "a single response" to the attack that occurred on Oct. 27, 2018 at Tree of Life in Squirrel Hill. On that day, a gunman named Robert Bowers reportedly entered the synagogue, killing 11 congregants and wounding several others.

Bowers was apprehended and now faces multiple charges, including committing federal hate crimes. As reported by CBS Pittsburgh, his trial has been set for April 24.

"By bringing all these objects together in one place, we honor the many incredible responses to that terrible day," says Lidji. "As this website grows in the years to come, we hope it will help people heal, connect, inspire, educate, and work together to improve the world."

The website was made possible through the Center's partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and is touted as the first project of its kind to be funded through the federal Antiterrorism Emergency Assistance Program.

“Through understanding the resilience of our community and the stories of the many people who helped respond to the worst antisemitic attack in U.S. history, we hope to help people in Pittsburgh and around the world to heal," says Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation. "That’s why we are proud to have funded the work of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives to create the online October 27 Archive." 

Cupid's Undie Run in Pittsburgh, 2024
18 images

Cupid's Undie Run in Pittsburgh, 2024

By Mars Johnson