Carnegie Mellon University

October 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Pittsburgh Campus Community, 

Today marks two years since the horrific attack on our Jewish friends and neighbors in the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, Dor Hadash and New Light congregations. These events are still seared in our collective memory and we continue to mourn the 11 lives lost on that tragic day. 

Today, I invite you to take a moment in your day to honor these victims, reflect on the deep wounds that hatred inflicts on humanity, and find ways to reach out to your fellow CMU community members to strengthen the bonds we all share. Today and every day, we must stand together against bigotry in all forms – whether motivated by anti-Semitism, racism, religious intolerance, xenophobia or fear of those who may live, look or love differently than you. Intolerance and hatred are totally and completely contrary to our shared values of empathy, compassion, and inclusion, and we need to remain vigilant in ensuring they do not take root here in Pittsburgh or at CMU. 

There are several opportunities to come together virtually for remembrance today: 

  • Hillel Virtual Space for Reflection – From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET today, Hillel Jewish University Center staff will be available virtually throughout the day for anyone who would like to connect. 
  • CMU Service of Remembrance: Commemorating the Attack at Tree of Life Synagogue Building – At 6:15 p.m. ET this evening, join the Hillel Jewish University Center, Religious & Spiritual Life Initiatives, the Council of Religious Advisors and the Council of Religious Students in a virtual service to pause, reflect, and remember. All are welcome. 
  • Pittsburgh Community Commemorative Gathering – At 7 p.m. ET, the Pittsburgh community will hold a virtual commemoration with the victims’ families, the survivors, the three congregations who worshipped at the Tree of Life Synagogue building and the first responders. 

I am also pleased to share that after a brief delay due to the pandemic, a memorial plaque has now been placed at the site of the tree planted to honor the victims of this tragedy. Designed by Professor Kristin Hughes from our College of Fine Arts, the plaque is located at the edge of the walkway at the grassy hillside above the tennis courts. If you are able, I invite you to visit this spot for your private reflection. 

I hope you will each find a way to observe this day in a way that is meaningful to you. As we do so, I wish you all safety, peace, unity and strength. 


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair