Impact Stories:

Penalty Phase Begins for Perpetrator of Attack on Three Jewish Congregations

By applying for grants and offering support to other organizations, the Federation aimed to create a safe and resilient environment for the Jewish community throughout the trial and beyond.

The trial of the individual responsible for the devastating attack on Congregation Dor Hadash, New Light Congregation, and Tree of Life Congregation is now underway, with jury selection beginning on April 24, 2023. While these trials can rekindle trauma for those affected, significant behind-the-scenes efforts have been undertaken to ensure the necessary support and safety of all involved.

Recognizing the potential threat posed by violent and antisemitic supporters of the defendant, increased security measures were implemented in Pittsburgh. Mental health resources were made available for individuals who could be re-traumatized by the trial proceedings, with a focus on supporting witnesses and those directly impacted by the attack. These initiatives align with the Jewish Federation's vision of fostering an inclusive, supportive, and inspiring Jewish community.

In collaboration with core partners and the 10.27 Healing Partnership, the Jewish Federation's community security team intensified their efforts ahead of the trial. This included reinforcing security plans and systems at Jewish locations, coordinating with law enforcement, and advocating for security improvements. Government grants were secured to enhance security measures, with $150,000 in funding allocated for additional security guards at Jewish agencies and synagogues during the trial. Home security was also provided to those directly impacted by the shooting, supplementing the existing protection offered by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Prioritizing the health and wellness of the community, the Federation partnered with the 10.27 Healing Partnership to raise awareness of mental health resources and prepared Jewish agencies and synagogues for potential media coverage, encouraging the use of trauma-informed language to mitigate anxiety. Collaborative efforts with the media and elected officials aimed to promote sensitive coverage and language during the trial. The Federation and its partners worked together to share stories of community resilience, countering potentially traumatizing trial-related narratives.

Beyond their immediate focus, the Federation's resources extended to aiding other organizations in their preparations. Grants from the Victims of Terror Fund provided a variety of healing resources to the Jewish community. Recognizing the importance of safety for mental well-being, the Federation's security team made special arrangements for key events leading up to the trial, such as the "L'hitraot" ceremony for the Tree of Life building and the installation of Dor Hadash's new rabbi.

In light of the tragedy that befell the three congregations, supporting the Federation is crucial to minimizing pain during the trial and fostering long-term resilience within the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. The absence of a crisis suggests the effectiveness of proactive planning, and the Federation's dedication to its vision will hopefully bring solace to the community as they remember and mourn the lives lost.

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