Motzei Shabbat, as soon as news hit of the tragic Tree of Life attack, OU-JLIC, Shalhevet, the Orthodox student club at NYU, and the Bronfman Center sent a mission of students to the Squirrel Hill community to offer support and solidarity. OU-JLIC at NYU Torah Educator, Rabbi Joe Wolfson coordinated rides for the students and solicitation of funding to help defer the costs of students travel, food and lodging.

Daniel Zabari, vice President of Shalhevet, had this to say from Pittsburgh:

Today I was able to see an international tragedy from a close vantage point. I felt the sorrow of those immediately affected. I watched the candles, representing the lives of the dead, wane and dwindle. And it was terrible. I saw a community, a city, a country, a humanity, united under a common goal. I heard the words and felt the love emanating from those who came to help. And it was beautiful.”

On Wednesday, a group of Rutgers students joined OU-JLIC Torah Educator, Rabbi Tzvi Wohlgelernter, on the 11 hour round-trip drive to pay Shivah to the families of the victims. One of the students who participated from Rutgers reflected:

“We davened mincha outside of the synagogue. It was raining and around us were media personnel, policemen and women and people who came to pay their respects at the memorial display by the sidewalk. It was one of the most powerful davenings of my life. It wasn’t just some Pittsburgh Jews who died. It wasn’t just Rabbi’s Tzvi’s friend’s aunt who died. It was my brothers and sisters who died, and when the opportunity came to go to Pittsburgh, I felt like I had to go. The woman who’s family we went to pay our respects to was not only a regular at the synagogue, but since the shul didn’t have a janitor, she would be the one to come early and stay late to prepare everything for the congregants and sweep the floors at the end.”

Many OU-JLIC educators have also been helping organize and speak at vigils across the country. They have been offering counseling to students, family of the victims, and university and Hillel colleagues in need. And they have been giving special shiurim, like OU-JLIC at Columbia/Barnard’s Rabbi Noam Friedman’s Sunday morning halachah shiur focused on hilkhot beit haknesset in honor of the victims.


All Torah learning and tefillah this week across OU-JLIC campuses was dedicated to the victims, families and community of the Tree of Life Synagogue and the brave first responders.