Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue

Finding light in Squirrel Hill during its darkest moment: An open letter from Tom and Frances Wolf

“In Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, we saw his mission both fulfilled and personified.”

Gov. Tom Wolf attends the Saturday vigil outside Sixth Presbyterian Church in Squirrel Hill.

Gov. Tom Wolf attends the Saturday vigil outside Sixth Presbyterian Church in Squirrel Hill.

Office of Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Dear Pittsburgh,

We are still reeling from the dark and hateful act at the Tree of Life synagogue. It continues to hang heavy on our souls. The loss is enormous — for the victims, the families, the Jewish community, and every Pittsburgher who may think twice before joining people they love in doing an everyday task.

But in this darkness, while we spent last weekend in Pittsburgh grieving, we found light that outshines hate.

It turns out that our shared humanity — our universal joys and fears — are stronger than one man with a gun. It may not prevent individuals filled with hate from committing these acts. But it makes each of us strong enough to move forward.

For all the sorrow and anger, rightful and deserved, Pittsburgh shined and our souls were lifted.

The Pittsburgh Police officers that ran toward a madman and stopped him from killing more of their neighbors. The EMTs and doctors that dropped what they were doing to help the victims and their colleagues.

The communities of faith — Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and more — that raised funds and gathered supplies to help the victims. The students that organized a vigil on Saturday evening so their community could be together. The Squirrel Hill kids that made cookies to thank first responders protecting their neighborhood.

We could go on and on.

In Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, we saw his mission both fulfilled and personified.

As Fred himself once said: “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

The neighborly humanity of Pittsburgh — your collective care and concern to respond in a time of great need — is keeping our hopes alive in this dark and sad moment for our commonwealth.

We have a lot of work to do to combat the hate and anti-Semitism that is driving violence in our world. We have to redouble our efforts to reduce the ability for hateful people to commit mass murder. We can’t stop working toward peace and safety in our communities.

But we also must pause in these moments and reflect on the good — the helpers, the consolers, the hopeful — in our world.

And over the past few days, Pittsburgh, you gave us hope. Your neighbors helped us find resolve to keep working toward spreading love and stopping hate.

You’re our heroes.

— Tom and Frances Wolf

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