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Pitt-Greensburg Affected by Tree of Life Tragedy

by Shirley Petropoulos

Roughly two weeks after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, there was another shooting that happened at Borderline Bar and Grill during college night in Thousand Oaks, California. This tragedy happened on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured. Most of the victims were college students between the ages of 21 and 26. 

On Oct. 29, at roughly 10 a.m., a lone gunman opened fire at Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh. This is considered to be the worst attack on Jewish people in US history. 11 people were killed and another six people were injured.

A few professors on the Pitt-Greensburg campus were deeply affected by this horrific event. Dr. Beverly Gaddy, an associate professor of political science, stated that “It happened only blocks from my home, where I and my daughter, up to that moment, were enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning. Gaddy saide, “we received a news alert: “Active shooter in Squirrel Hill; shelter in place.””

While she did not know any of the victims, it hit home for Gaddy.

Her place of worship is only a block away from where the shooting took place. Gaddy and her fellow neighbors went to vigils that were held that weekend of the shooting. The following week , when she went to her church, she said, “for the second Sunday in a row there was not a dry eye following Sunday morning worship at Squirrel Hill’s Presbyterian Church.”.

Gaddy , not Jewish ,but she said that “It is not about which faith one belongs to; it is about community and love.”

She was there for her community when it was struck by tragedy and others that do not live in that community were there for the victims and their families after this horrific event happened.

Another Pitt-Greensburg professor that was deeply affected by this tragedy was Professor Jessica Ghilani, a communications professor.

“I think we are all sad and in a shock about such a horrific tragedy” Ghilani said. Ghilani made sure that in all of her classes on the Monday following the shooting that she made remarks about what happened. Ghilani has been deeply affected by this tragedy because she has personal ties with some of the victims and their families.

She believes that it is hard to make sense of an act that was so senseless, and as people mourn the loss of their loved ones and people they knew, it can be hard to make sense of it all. “I am sure I am not the only person in our community who has personal ties to the victims and to members of congregations who worship at Tree of Life,” Ghilani said. “It is hard to make sense of something that feels so senseless.”

The Tree of Life tragedy affected people in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. There has been an overwhelming number of people that are giving their love and support to Pittsburgh amid the tragedy that happened. Pittsburgh is stronger than hate, as most people that live in Pittsburgh have said since the tragedy occurred.

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