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Temple Sinai presses on with religious classes in wake of synagogue shooting

November 18, 2018

Temple Sinai Rabbi Keren Gorban greeted children and their parents when they arrived for religious school Sunday morning as two armed guards patrolled the Squirrel Hill complex.

“We go on,” Gorban said. “We do not let terrorists win. We do not let hate win.”

Just 24 hours earlier a mass shooting tore through Tree of Life Congregation, just a few blocks away, in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

About a third of the temple’s 90 students attended Sunday’s school. Students in a cooking class carted around piping hot squash soup. Others were other sessions with teachers.

Saturday ’s mass shooting was not discussed unless prompted by a child.

“We are not really addressing it with the kids unless they bring it up first,” Gorban said. “We do not want to break news to them. We will address it with teens and the older kids.”

Religious school at nearby Rodef Shalom temple in Shadyside was canceled Sunday morning.

Temple Sinai officials debated whether to open Sunday morning.

Executive Director Drew Barkley decided to convene classes after additional security was brought in to ensure the safety of children and others who attended.

During a walk around the temple’s property a discarded suitcase was found in a nearby Dumpster and the Allegheny County Bomb Squad was called to investigate.

Officials determined that the suitcase was not a threat and to continue with the planned day’s activities.

“We felt it was important to continue and not be deterred,” Barkley said.

For Gorban, Saturday’s shooting was an eerie reminder of the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people were killed during a shooting during a midnight screening.

Gorban worked as a rabbi in nearby Denver at that time.

“I remembered that feeling of not being safe in a place you are supposed to be safe,” he said. “It’s the same here and in a community where everyone knows everyone and a place were everyone knows what everyone is feeling.”

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