Tree of Life unveils new design, plans for site

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Tree of Life unveils new design, plans for site

Designs and renderings of a museum and memorial at the Tree of Life synagogue, the site of the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the country, were unveiled Tuesday morning ahead of a planned press conference at Squirrel Hill.

The site — part museum, part memorial, part community space — will include a “new national institution dedicated to ending antisemitism,” according to a statement announcing the project.

The institute will simply be called Tree of Life.

“Our path forward imagines a future without anti-Semitism, because we know all too well the pain and devastation it causes,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading Shabbat services for Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha when a gunman stormed the synagogue in 2018. “Antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem. It is everyone’s problem, and we are all bound to actively work toward its end. We did not ask for this responsibility, but we cannot ignore it.”

The shooting killed 11 people across three congregations—Tree of Life, New Light and Dor Hadash.

According to the press release, Myers will continue to lead the Tree of Life congregation, which will stay in the building on Wilkins Avenue and retain its nonprofit status.

The new Tree of Life institute will be led by a chief executive and governed by a board of directors separate from that of the congregation, according to the release. The new board will also oversee the building, and the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh will merge into the new Tree of Life institute.

Renderings of the new building were released Tuesday ahead of the planned press conference.

“My response to the attack on 10/27 is to create a space imbued with Jewish ideals. The design focuses on the key Jewish dimension of bringing light into darkness and creating an open and democratic space within,” said architect Daniel Libeskind, who was selected last year as the lead architect for the reimagined building. “The Tree of Life will be a place that affirms Jewish life and sees it as a conduit of healing for the community and beyond.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@triblive.com or via Twitter .