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3 Congregations To Commemorate Tree Of Life Tragedy Virtually Next Week

By: KDKA-TV's Jennifer Borrasso

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's been almost two years since 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's commemoration of the victims will look different.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers says the gatherings have to be smaller, but the same type of events held last year will still be done. There will be opportunities for community service and to donate blood.

"Two years out, the wounds are still very raw in that regard. Add to it the retraumatization because of the pandemic," Myers said.

Next Tuesday marks two years, and it's been challenging amid the pandemic, Myers said.

"In the case of the Tree of Life, the fact that we were not just displaced from our home once, but displaced a second time with self-quarantining. So that's just made it doubly traumatic for the congregation as a whole," Myers said.

Everything will be done virtually this year.

"Despite not being able to gather in person, the year before we were in Calvary Episcopal Church, we had 800 people. It's impossible to duplicate that when you go virtual," Myers said.

Congregations from Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life will honor the 11 lives lost with a commemoration ceremony at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27. Anyone can take part in the ceremony.

"If anything, because of the pandemic, we are able to reach out to a wider range of scholars to join us virtually," Myers said.

Looking forward is the goal now, according to Tree of Life's president.

"We have been very busy at Tree of Life, having meetings to discuss our plans for rebuilding, our plans for moving forward and having a collaborative space at the corner Wilkins and Shady and what we are going to do," said Carol Sikov-Gross.

If you want to take part in this year's commemoration, click here.

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