We Can Be podcast - The Heinz Endowments

In aftermath of tragedy at Tree of Life synagogue, random acts of beauty & unity are the new normal (S02EP01)

March 27, 2019

The early morning of Oct. 27, 2018, began with promise, ethereally foggy with sunlight shining through the occasional crack in the haze to highlight the fall foliage.


Then, at 9:50 a.m., a lone gunman opened fire on worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, killing 11 people in what would become the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in our nation’s history.


In this two-part episode, we will hear three distinct and moving perspectives of what happened that day and in the weeks that followed as the Jewish community, city and country persevered through grief, reckoned with reality, and found that random acts of beauty and unity are the new normal.


In part one, host Grant Oliphant speaks with Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh CEO Jeff Finkelstein.


The Jewish Federation has assisted Jewish people affected by traumatic events for more than 100 years, and Jeff shares heart-rending details of what he – and fellow Jewish leaders – did in the hours and days after the massacre at Tree of Life was thrust upon Pittsburgh.


“We know that, for those closest to the tragedy, the pain will last a lifetime,” Jeff said. “But we can’t turn away.”



“We Can Be” is hosted by The Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments and Treehouse Media. Theme and incidental music composed and performed by Josh Slifkin. Guest and header image by Josh Franzos.

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