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Doug Emhoff to speak at groundbreaking of memorial for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims

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PITTSBURGH (AP/KDKA) -- Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris and the first Jewish person to serve as the spouse of a nationally elected U.S. leader, will deliver remarks on Sunday at the groundbreaking of the memorial to victims of the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

The White House announced that Emhoff, who has been among the most visible and outspoken Biden administration officials on combating antisemitism at home and abroad, would attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Tree of Life campus.

Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, who co-designed the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site, the building will have a skylit atrium running the length of the building, signifying hope.   

The reimagined Tree of Life unveiled its first memorial design rendering, five years after the nation's deadliest antisemitic attack at the Squirrel Hill synagogue.   (Photo: Studio Libeskind)

The synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood was home to the deadliest antisemitic attack in the United States, in which 11 worshipers were killed by a gunman driven by hatred of Jews. The space will include a new place of worship, a museum devoted to studying the hatred of Jews in the U.S. and a memorial to the victims.

The June 23 event will include community leaders, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who will serve as the ceremony's host.

Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue awarded $1 million for education

Last month, Senator Bob Casey announced that $1 million in federal funding would be going to the Tree of Life synagogue to develop new educational programming at the K-12 level. The money is broken down into staffing, technology and classrooms.

Across the country, antisemitic incidents are on the rise. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were more 8,800 last year, a 140 percent increase from 2022.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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