Jewish Greek life honors Tree of Life victims


Sarah Cutshall | Staff Photographer

Jewish Pitt Greek life organizations will make appreciation cards for the Tree of Life Congregation over the next two weeks.

By Jon Moss, Staff Writer

After Saturday morning’s massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, some Jewish Pitt Greek life organizations are helping support their fellow Pittsburghers.

A coalition of several historically Jewish Pitt fraternities and sororities — Alpha Epsilon Phi, Sigma Alpha Mu, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Zeta Beta Tau — tabled outside of the William Pitt Union on Tuesday afternoon for other students to make condolence cards for the Tree of Life congregation, impacted families and local first responders.

The coalition estimated more than 1,100 cards were created and signed by Pitt students Tuesday. They stayed outside of the WPU until 6 p.m. and will be making cards every day for the next two weeks.

“Saying a few nice words … can make a difference,” Christopher Blinn, a sophomore marketing major and member of Zeta Beta Tau, said. “It’s important to come together to do what we can because you can’t undo [the shooting].”

Other Pitt students are embracing their Jewish heritage and standing with their fellow Jews in Squirrel Hill by making donations to local Jewish charities.

To make a financial impact of its own, the coalition of Jewish Greek life organizations is fundraising for the local nonprofit Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh through a GoFundMe page. A portion of the funds will also go to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish nonprofit originally founded in 1881 to help resettle Jewish refugees from eastern Europe, which was derided by alleged gunman Robert Bowers in posts on the social network Gab. By Tuesday night, more than $3,000 had been raised.

“To life! In honor of our Jewish brothers and sisters who lost their lives, and our non-Jewish allies who risked their lives to combat the hate,” Elli Warsh, an undergraduate health services student and former president of Alpha Epsilon Phi, said. “To spreading love in this strong City I call my second home.”

Many other Pittsburgh institutions, such as the PNC Foundation and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, announced donations to the Federation totaling more than $125,000.

“The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will work in the coming days and weeks, alongside our many community partners, Jewish agencies and synagogues, to bring the Jewish community and all of Pittsburgh together,” Jeff Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Federation, said in a press release. “We are stronger than the tragedies that befall us because we are strong together.”

The coalition hopes that their efforts can help to bring Pittsburgh together, and bring out the best in their fellow students.

“It’s such like a horrible … event, and like, people need to be reminded that there’s … good in the world,” Blinn said.

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