Carnegie Mellon University

October 23, 2019

Dear Members of the CMU Community,

It has been almost one year since the horrific attack on our Jewish friends and neighbors in the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, Dor Hadash and New Light congregations. As we approach this moment, I am writing to reflect and also look ahead to ways we can connect with one another in the coming days and weeks.

The events of October 27, 2018 will forever be a part of our community’s consciousness. In the days following the shooting, the CMU community around the world vowed to be Stronger Than Hate. We refused to allow an act of unthinkable violence and anti-Semitism overshadow our shared humanity. People of all beliefs gathered to honor and remember the lives that were lost, to speak out against hatred, and to comfort and support one another. We stood together for empathy, compassion, inclusion and respect as the bedrock values of our community.

One year later, the bonds forged in the midst of our grief remain unshakable. I know our campus community is eager to come together at this time, so I wanted to share some upcoming opportunities to gather. I encourage you to join us for any and all of these events or create your own opportunity for reflection:

  • This Friday, as part of CMU’s first Tartan Community Day, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (Cohon University Center, Lower Level) is hosting The Peace Project from 1:30 to 3 p.m. A student-led initiative, this interactive, open session will invite participants to define what peace means to them as we construct a campus-wide tapestry showcasing both our unique and shared ideas of peace.
  • The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and other organizations planning for this weekend have asked local organizations to promote and join city-wide opportunities for a commemorative day of engagement on Sunday, October 27, including various activities during the day and a community gathering from 5 to 6 p.m. at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.
  • From November 4 to 14, the Hillel Jewish University Center on Forbes Avenue will be hosting 11 Days of Chesed (“Kindness”) and welcomes all CMU community members to a culminating event on November 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m for a Shabbat Lunch and Learn. The event will be held on the Yahrzeit, which marks one year following the shooting according to the Hebrew calendar date. Learn more and RSVP here.
  • We invite you to attend “Stronger Than Hate: A CMU Memorial and Community Gathering” on Wednesday, November 6 at 6 p.m. on the grassy hillside above the tennis courts (rain location: Kresge Theater). We will come together for reflection, music and prayer as we dedicate the memorial tree we planted last spring. Following the ceremony, we will gather as a community in Alumni Concert Hall.
  • There are a number of other events and services planned at houses of worship in the Pittsburgh area.

In addition to these opportunities, I hope you will turn to the people and practices that support your well-being in times of grief and hardship. Family, friends, mentors and faith leaders can offer comfort as can university resources, such as Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS), the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, and other university staff and faculty.

In reflecting on our shared humanity and values, we are reminded that we are stronger together. On this upcoming day of remembrance, as we honor the victims and their loved ones, let us embrace this sense of community on our path toward healing.

Wishing you continued peace,


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
Carnegie Mellon University