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community gathered in Simmons Auditorium
Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life Synagogue delivers remarks to the CMU community.

CMU Community Gathers on 5th Anniversary of Tree of Life Synagogue Shootings

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Peter Kerwin
University Communications & Marketing

Five years ago on Oct. 27, members of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, Dor Hadash and New Light congregations were attacked while worshiping a mile from Carnegie Mellon University’s campus. Eleven Pittsburghers lost their lives, and others were injured.

Today, more than 200 members of the campus community joined CMU President Farnam Jahanian(opens in new window) in Simmons Auditorium in the Tepper Building to remember the victims of the attack, support those with deep scars, and honor the resilience of the Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh communities.


“We will move forward using our platform to educate and push against hate for all identities in our CMU community.” — Wanda Heading-Grant


The program opened with a performance of Ernest Bloch’s “Nigun” by Andrés Cárdenes(opens in new window), the Dorothy Richard Starling & Alexander Speyer Jr. University Professor of violin, accompanied by Dimitri Papadimitriou(opens in new window), assistant teaching professor of chamber music and piano in the School of Music(opens in new window).

Following the performance, Jahanian spoke about expectations related to grief and healing.

“People often say time heals all wounds, but the truth is that sometimes there’s no getting through it; there’s no getting over it. There’s just living with it and coming to peace with it. So today, I want to be very intentional about saying wherever you are in your journey of grief, and healing and processing, it’s okay,” Jahanian said.

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou(opens in new window), dean of the Tepper School of Business(opens in new window), gave a deeply personal account of the many incidents of violence she has witnessed throughout her life. She was followed by Wanda Heading-Grant(opens in new window), vice provost for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

“Through our collective memory, we acknowledge the pain and suffering antisemitism has caused throughout history and continues to cause today. This is a solemn occasion, but it is also an opportunity for reflection, solidarity and commitment to building a world free of discrimination and hatred,” Heading-Grant said.

Farnam Jahanian at podium

President Farnam Jahanian delivers remarks.

Andrés Cárdenes plays violin on stage accompanied by pianist

Andrés Cárdenes and Dimitri Papadimitriou perform Ernest Bloch’s “Nigun.” 

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou at podium

Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou provides a deeply personal account of her experiences with antisemitism.

Wanda Heading-Grant

Wanda Heading-Grant pledges her commitment and support to the CMU community.

Fence on CMU campus painted black with candles and Tree of Life

The Fence is painted in remembrance.

Heading-Grant’s remarks included mention of the upcoming Nov. 14 keynote featuring Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who will share reflections on his experience as a survivor of the hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, in January 2022. That keynote will kick off an annual three-part series addressing antisemitism.

“We will move forward using our platform to educate and push against hate for all identities in our CMU community,” she said.

Simone Rothstein, a student in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences(opens in new window), offered remarks on behalf of the student community, followed by remarks from Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers from Tree of Life, who spoke of the golden rule of treating others how you would want to be treated, and Rabbi Shlomo Silverman, Council of Religious Advisors; Chabad of CMU, who read Psalm 23 in Hebrew, then in English.

The event closed with the singing of “Oseh Shalom” by Rebecca Kira, a student in the Dietrich College.

After the program ended, many attendees lingered in the auditorium to exchange greetings, hugs and stories with their fellow campus community members.