Tree of Life sanctuary windows. Photo by S.M. Riemer.

Vowing to create a “Makom Kodesh,” a safe and sacred space, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers announced on Tuesday that the Tree of Life / Or L’Simcha Congregation has selected New York-based architect Daniel Libeskind to help rebuild the Squirrel Hill synagogue.

Libeskind, the son of Holocaust survivors, designed the Jewish Museum Berlin and was the master planner for the post-9/11 World Trade Center site.

“It is with a great sense of urgency and meaning that I join the Tree of Life to create a new center in Pittsburgh,” Libeskind said in a statement. “Our team is committed to creating a powerful and memorable space that addresses the worst anti-Semitic attack in United States history. When my parents, survivors of the Holocaust, and I came as immigrants to America, we felt an air of freedom as Jews in this country. That is why this project is not simply about ‘never again.’ It is a project that must address the persistence of anti-Semitism and the intolerance of our time and affirm the democratic values of our country.”

Three congregations sharing the building — Tree of Life, Dor Hadash and New Light — had worshippers killed in America’s deadliest anti-Semitic attack on Oct. 27, 2018, which claimed the lives of 11 people and wounded others. Dor Hadash and New Light have no plans to return to the synagogue.

Rothschild Doyno Collaborative of Pittsburgh will work with Libeskind on the project, which will include spaces for worship and commemoration, classrooms and educational programming as well as a new home for exhibitions and public programs of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh.

Tree of Life
Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha synagogue facade. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha synagogue facade. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“It is humbling to be trusted and have the opportunity to support this courageous community for which today’s announcement is an important step in the healing process,” said Daniel Rothschild, senior principal of the firm, in a statement. “We are very excited about Tree of Life’s selection of Studio Libeskind and we are honored to be their partners in expressing hope, resilience and renewal to the future building and site.”

Rabbi Myers, who survived the attack, has long promised that the congregation would rebuild.

“This is an exciting next step in this long process of rebuilding. I am looking forward to entering a new Tree of Life building without fear or hesitation,” said Andrea Wedner, who was injured in the attack while attending worship with her mother, Rose Mallinger, who was among those killed.

Brian brings a passion for Pittsburgh, doughnuts and ice cream to his job as editor. His more than 30 years of journalism experience have taught him the importance of community engagement and a sense of humor.