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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Tree of Life Says its Building will Reopen as a ‘Center for Jewish life in the United States’

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(JTA) — The Tree of Life synagogue building, the site of an attack a year ago that left 11 worshipers dead, will reopen as a “center for Jewish life in the United States.”

The Tree of Life Congregation issued a statement to announce its “vision” for the building on Friday.

The building, which was home to three different congregations, has not reopened since the Oct. 27, 2019 attack. The attack left the building “unsuitable for worship,” according to the statement. It was in need of serious repair and renovation before the attack took place, it also said.

Tree of Life’s vision for the future of the property calls for the space to be a “cooperative and collaborative space that brings together stakeholders in a shared environment that includes places for Jewish worship memorial, education and social engagement, exhibit space for archival historical artistic expression, as well as classrooms and training spaces.”

A community planning process will determine the building’s “precise future,” according to the statement. The process was announced to the congregation during Kol Nidre services on Yom Kippur.

“We are poised to become an incredible center for Jewish life in the United States,” Tree of Life’s Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said in a statement. “When we reopen, and we most certainly will, I want the entire world to say, ‘Wow, look at what they have done.’ To do anything less disrespects the memory of our 11 martyrs.”

The plans reportedly include worship space for the congregations that want to return, space for the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh to move into the building, and space for the Chatham University. There also will be a memorial to the victims of the attack, though it may not be the official city memorial.

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