Summer Lee Fights for Funding to Address Trauma As the Trial for Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre Begins

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) released the following statement as the trial for the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history begins starting with jury selection that is expected to take several weeks: 

Lee said “This week, ALL of Pittsburgh must come together to hold up our Jewish community as the start of the trial for the deadliest antisemitic attack in history reopens immeasurable wounds, suffering, and trauma for so many of our neighbors and loved ones. All of us must stand against antisemitism, white supremacy, and violence in all of its forms. With hate crimes rising to their highest levels on record with antisemitic attacks making up the majority of religious hate crimes, NOW is the time to invest in healing, care for ongoing trauma, and education about antisemitism and identity. When we come together in community, we make sure that hate has no home here in Pennsylvania.”

In February, Lee toured the site of the massacre and met with Foundation leadership and family members of those killed in the attack. Lee was profoundly moved by what she saw and the beautiful conversations she had with family members of those that were murdered about what can be done to help heal from the trauma that remains and their vision for the renovated building as a center to educate against antisemitism and hate. 

To aid in the renovation process and help the community respond to and heal from the ongoing trauma that is guaranteed to increase with the start of the trial, Congresswoman Summer Lee is working to secure millions in community project funding (formerly known as earmarks):

  • Lee is working to deliver $3,451,258 for the Tree of Life Congregation to create a community gathering and education space to teach about antisemitism and identity within the renovated Tree of Life building, which The Tree of Life congregation met on Sunday to mark the beginning of the renovation process that will soon transform the site into a museum, memorial and center for education. The plans feature a design that aims to “balance the light with the darkness” and will strive to tell a story of hope and redemption, instead of massacre and sorrow. On Sunday, April 23rd, in the garden outside of the Tree of Life synagogue, congregation members and neighbors came together to say “until we see each other again” to the building that once served as a center of worship for so many in the Jewish community in Squirrel Hill and all of Pittsburgh. 
  • Lee is working to deliver $547,212 to 10.27 Healing Partnership at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh to respond to and address the ongoing trauma from the 2018 Synagogue Mass Shooting in the lead-up to and in the aftermath of the trial. The goal of this project is to deepen the effectiveness of community-based work initiated by the initial investment from the federal government after the attack, focused on victim support, healing, and increasing the capacity of community partners to navigate trauma and resiliency following this horrific mass casualty event and the ongoing threat of antisemitism, white supremacy, and gun violence 

Robert D. Bowers, 50, of Baldwin, Pa., faces 63 counts in the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history which occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018 where he killed eleven worshippers and wounded two others with AR-15 and three handguns to carry out his attack while shouting antisemitic slurs. 

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