Monroeville congregation to honor Tree of Life victims on anniversary |

Monroeville congregation to honor Tree of Life victims on anniversary

Dillon Carr
Lillian Dedomenic | Tribune-Review
A standing-room-only crowd attended a gathering of unity, peace and support at Temple David in Monroeville on Oct. 28, 2018.

As the world focuses on Pittsburgh on the first anniversary of a mass shooting at a Squirrel Hill synagogue, a Monroeville congregation will honor the victims by hosting a remembrance.

“From Darkness to Light … From Embrace to Hope” will be held Oct. 26 at Temple David to remember the 11 lives lost in the most violent anti-Semitic act in U.S. history when a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue.

The evening will start at 6:15 p.m. with a family program that will include a visit from a therapy dog, a display of an original mosaic art project and a take-home project. Two therapists from the Center for Victims will be on hand to offer private consultations.

Rabbi Barbara Symons said the glass mosaic was designed by a Temple David congregant, Debbie Jacknin.

“We want to get as many hands as possible contributing to it, as many ages, skin tones, faiths,” Symons said. “It’ll be a sunset scene with mountains of Western Pennsylvania and 11 stars. That’s the basic idea of it.”

The rabbi said the piece of art will be permanently displayed in Temple David’s sanctuary as a memorial to those who died.

The next segment of the event, “From Darkness to Light,” will begin at 7 p.m. for a Jewish Havdalah ceremony, one which separates the Sabbath from the new week.

Symons said there is a spiritual significance to the ceremony as it relates to last year’s tragedy.

“Part of the ceremony is to light a braided candle and put it out. It marks ‘Let’s move on into the new week,’” she said. “We’ll enhance it by intertwining the stories of the 11 victims.”

At 7:30 p.m., the service will shift to “From Embrace to Hope,” which will guide participants through a program of comfort “through words and the songs of an interfaith choir.”

Symons said the service will honor first responders and feature Brandi Gurcak, clinical coordinator for the Center for Victims. She will give a presentation called “Creating Space for Hope.”

“She’s been involved with helping with moving people through the trauma from the beginning. So she’s not an outside voice. She is surely an inside voice for the Jewish community and an inside voice to this tragedy,” Symons said.

The synagogue will host a reception at 8:30 p.m. following the services.

The event is free and open to the public. Temple David is located at 4415 Northern Pike.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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