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Adat Shalom’s Rabbi Lehrer: Healing requires ‘you take one step and then another’ |
Fox Chapel

Adat Shalom’s Rabbi Lehrer: Healing requires ‘you take one step and then another’

Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Mourners hold candles in the air during an interfaith vigil in Squirrel Hill on October 27, 2018 to mourn the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue, where a gunman killed 11 people and injured six.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Preparations are made for a community interfaith vigil organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.

There is a hole in the collective heart of the Fox Chapel Area Jewish community, said Rabbi Yaier Lehrer of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Indiana Township.

But members of the congregation along Guys Run Road will come together this week to formulate a path to healing.

“The Jewish heart has been pierced and you can’t ignore what’s happened because everyone knows and everyone is feeling it,” he said, following the mass shooting on Oct. 27 at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Suspect Robert Bowers, armed with an AR-15 and three handguns, walked into Shabbat services, spewed anti-Semitic rants and killed 11 people who had gathered to pray. Six others were injured in the shootout.

“How you go forward is that you take one step and then you take another,” Lehrer said.

“We have to acknowledge our pain and accept the support we’ve received from various faith communities,” he said. “I think every congregation in the area has reached out to us.”

The Rev. Scott Shaffer, pastor at Faith United Methodist in Fox Chapel, scheduled a special prayer service on Oct. 28 that included a prolonged period of guided prayer, special readings and reflections in response to the weekend shooting. There also was a separate collection to support the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh in their assistance to families affected by the crime.

“Along with many of the other clergy in the Fox Chapel Area, I reached out to Rabbi Lehrer to express our congregation’s sympathy and commitment to stand in solidarity with Adat Shalom and the wider Pittsburgh Jewish Community in any way we can,” Shaffer said. “We pray for everyone affected, from the victims and their families, the police officers, the first responders, the perpetrator and his family and for the healing of our world from the evil of anti-Semitism, gun violence and hatred in any form.”

Adat Shalom is a robust site that serves the Fox Chapel Area and beyond. Adults and children gather for services, religious education and community outreach.

They also seek comfort, Lehrer said, as witnessed this past weekend when five times the typical number of people turned out for worship.

Lehrer said it is important to assure his congregation’s children that they are safe at the synagogue. He and other leaders will meet this week to discuss upgraded safety at the site. There already are cameras and a secure entry in use, he said.

There has been a township police officer assigned since Saturday to guard the building’s entrance, a move that Lehrer finds comforting rather than scary.

“I think kids view police as figures of authority who are there to protect us,” he said. “I think they accept their presence easily, and so do I.”

To contact Lehrer, visit

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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