February 22, 2020

University of Pittsburgh Students Create Exhibit Commemorating Pittsburgh Shooting

Signs of support are being shown throughout Pittsburgh following last week’s deadly synagogue shooting. Photo by Alan Freed/Reuters

A group of six University of Pittsburgh students created an exhibit commemorating the Oct. 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that is on display through Dec. 6.

The exhibit, titled “To Those Who Grasp It: Student Responses to Oct. 27th,” features pamphlets from the Tree of Life synagogue, yarmulkes with “Stronger Than Hate” emblazoned on them and an anonymous student’s reflection note. There are also documents providing Pittsburgh’s history on anti-Semitism and white supremacy, the student newspaper Pitt News reports.

“We present to you, the student community of Pittsburgh, the ideas behind why the attack happened in the first place – the hatred, white supremacy, and antisemitism in our society today,” the exhibit’s website states. “We also present to you a topic in which we are all well versed – student responses to October 27th. We know how our friends responded, how our schools responded, how we responded.”

Additionally, attendees are encouraged to take stones to show solidarity with the Jewish community. It is Jewish tradition to place stones on the gravesites of the deceased.

Caroline Mead, one of the students involved with the exhibit and whose father was wounded by one of the shooter’s gunshots, said in a Oct. 6 speech at the opening of the exhibit, “The lives of the victims weigh heavily on our hearts, and it is through life that we can live through their message. Through life, we can live through their truth.”

She also described the sculpture of a tree featuring diamond-shaped mirrors etched into it as a way for attendees to “reflect on the severity of this event, and the impact that just one day can make.”

According to The Pitt News, the exhibit will be on display at William Pitt Student Union through Oct. 16 and will then be moved to the university’s Department of History until Dec. 6. The exhibit will also be displayed at Carnegie Mellon University at some point in 2020.

The shooting, which occurred on Oct. 27, resulted in 11 dead and six wounded. The alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, has pleaded not guilty.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “Thankful for these students, using art to bring awareness to the importance of remembrance. As we approach one year since the Tree Of Life massacre, this is a profoundly moving example of solidarity and support in the face of tragedy.”