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Tom Hanks, Billy Porter And Joanne Rogers Named Cabinet Members For Tree Of Life's Rebuilding Campaign

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Some big names are coming together to support the Tree of Life community in Squirrel Hill as they continue to rebuild and recover from tragedy two years ago.

The "REMEMBER. REBUILD. RENEW." campaign aims to mark a new beginning for the congregation that lost 11 members in the worst anti-Semitic attack in United States history in October of 2018.

To get started, campaign organizers have named an honorary cabinet to support the efforts.


Three of the biggest names to sit on that cabinet are actors Tom Hanks and Billy Porter, and Fred Rogers' widow, Joanne Rogers. Hanks played Mister Rogers just last year on the big screen and Porter is a Pittsburgh native.

In a statement, Porter said, "The Jewish community of Pittsburgh has been present for me and my family for decades. They took care of me in my early years. They took care of my mom in my absence, as I pursued my career. My love for this community is unwavering. I look forward to showing the world what real love looks like!"

Additional names on the list include Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, Gov. Tom Wolf, state Rep. Dan Frankel, state Sen. Jay Costa, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

Here is the full list:

• Tom Hanks; actor, director, writer, producer
• Billy Porter; Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning artist
• Joanne Rogers; wife of Fred Rogers
• Ambassador Dani Dayan; former consul general of Israel in New York
• Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
• Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Frankel
• Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa
• Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto
• County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County
• Jared Cohon; president emeritus, Carnegie Mellon University
• Meryl and David Ainsman; community leaders
• Debra and William Demchak; community and business leaders
• Bill Strickland; founder and executive chairman, Manchester Bidwell Corporation
• Rabbi Alvin Berkun; rabbi emeritus
• Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers

The campaign will support the renovation of the Tree of Life building, partner with community organizations, create educational programs, work for national outreach and engagement, and build a new programmatic center dedicated to eliminating hatred.

The campaign will be chaired by Drs. Ellen Stewart and Jeffrey Cohen, and by Linda and Jeffrey Solomon.

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