Westmoreland businesses, Penn State New Ken show support for Pittsburgh’s Jewish community

November 20, 2018

Sam Rubin learned about the shooting at a Squirrel Hill synagogue while attending Saturday services with his daughter, Malka, at Parkway Jewish Center near Monroeville.

He later learned that his daughter’s Sunday school teacher at Temple David is related to Andrea Wedner, 61, one of six people injured in the attack. Wedner is the daughter of Rose Mallinger, 97, one of 11 killed in the shooting.

The attack prompted Rubin, owner of Walkers Pet HoTail in Murrysville, to show support for Pittsburgh’s Jewish community by posting a digital version of the “Stronger Than Hate” logo on his business’ marquee.

Rubin’s is one of several Westmoreland County businesses and organizations to signal their solidarity in the days after a gunman spewing anti-Semitic invective attacked Tree of Life, where three congregations share space.

“It’s a small world,” Rubin said. “Pittsburgh is a close community where everybody knows somebody who was involved.”

While the service at Parkway Jewish Center was still going on, a police car came through the parking lot to make sure everyone was OK, he said.

“I had friends and family contacting me from all over the country,” Rubin said. “A friend of mine was on a train in India and emailed me, saying, ‘I just heard’ and ‘Are you OK?’ ”

Rubin said he’s going to leave the sign up for a couple days, even though Halloween is normally the time for pictures of dogs dressed in costumes.

“I thought the logo was very good in that it tied into Pittsburgh and the local community,” he said. “No matter what their views, this symbol seemed to coalesce for everybody. That’s a good one to show support and that we’re all in this together.”

Giant Eagle announced Monday it is soliciting donations through its supermarkets and GetGo locations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Our Victims of Terror Fund. The campaign continues through Nov. 7.

Donations can be made at staffed checkouts and self-checkout lanes and will be added to the grocery bill. Giant Eagle said it is temporarily suspending its Fall Food Share campaign to focus attention on the Tree of Life victims. The Fall Food Share campaign will resume Nov. 8.

At Penn State New Kensington, students and staff will have a moment of silence at 10 a.m. Wednesday to honor the victims of the shooting. School officials said several of their students are either from the Squirrel Hill area or have attended Tree of Life Congregation.

Chancellor Kevin Snider said houses of worship and schools share similar goals and offerings in bringing the community together to foster discussion and learning.

“To have that shattered by someone who is clearly disturbed and really delivering a message of hate -- it just hits everybody,” Snider said.

The school offered an open session to discuss the shooting at noon Monday, and the university’s president planned to do a live stream to discuss it Monday night. The school also is directing students to counselors if they need it.

“I think all of us have this feeling of dismay and anger and sadness that we have to think about these things,” Snider said. “It’s always on all of our minds -- this just brings it home.”

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