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'I Can't Believe It's Been Three Years:' Community Prepares To Remember, Reflect On Tree Of Life Shooting

SQUIRREL HILL, Pa. (KDKA-TV) - On Wednesday, a special hour-long ceremony is taking place to honor the 11 lives lost three years ago today at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

The focus this year is unity, hope, and looking towards the future.

"I can't believe it's been three years."

That's what organizers of this ceremony say they hear all of the time. What they've learned over that time, is how powerful the community can be when we work together.

For most of us, we remember what happened at the Tree of Life on this day three years ago.

It still brings grief and heartache. But for those who were there inside, it adds another layer of pain that may never really go away. One of the survivors, Carol Black, tells KDKA she hid inside the synagogue when the shooting took place, while her brother, Richard Gottfried, was among those killed.

She's part of a group that's been working to not only honor the 11 who were killed but also their surviving family members, and make sure the area unites.

"Solidarity, just being able to be there three years later, a little bit firmer ground, a little bit more hopeful for the future. And that we're together, Tree of Life, Dor Hadash, and New Light," said Carol Black, a survivor, and ceremony organizer.

For months, they've been listening and challenging each other, making sure that the event is meaningful.

"It's been a committee that's been very open and honest, we're not afraid to say how we feel or no I really don't think that's a good idea and everybody listens to each other," said Lu Lu Orr, Jewish Family Community Services.

The outdoor ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. on Prospect Drive in Schenley Park. It'll take place near a grove of trees that were planted this April in memory of the 11. There will be music, prayer, rituals, and healing.

CBS Pittsburgh will provide full coverage of the event and will share additional stories of survival and how the community continues to heal.

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