Support in the Wake of Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

October 31, 2018

The anti-Semitic act of hatred which occurred on October 27 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has yet again brought to light the ugliest side of humanity. This despicable act destroys our sense of security and causes traumatic stress within our communities. Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy are with the victims, their families, and our Jewish neighbors both domestically and around the world.

As the entire country continues to mourn, we are inspired by the communities who have rallied around one another and broken down traditional barriers to comfort each other.

During these times we want to immediately act and provide support—to the victims, their families, and communities impacted. Many individuals and companies are supporting specific funds for victims. The Allegheny Conference, on behalf of the region’s private sector leaders, is encouraging support through the Jewish Federation’s “Our Victims of Terror Fund,” which is at the center of local efforts to ensure resources are directed to the areas of greatest need. Additionally, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (or HIAS) is receiving funds to help protect Jewish refugees.

It is also important to recognize and support the long-term, ongoing recovery required to help the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, the community of Pittsburgh, and those directly affected heal—both physically and mentally.  

Businesses, associations, and chambers can help support these efforts. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect 10-15% of a community following this type of tragedy. Leadership at organizations should familiarize themselves with the following resources to better understand their role—both to support the local community and their employees. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Incidents of Mass Violence Support has resources and guides for how to support different communities in the aftermath of a tragic event. Organizations like the American Physiological Association and Mental Health America, and the National Council for Behavioral Health also have resources for how to manage distress during these unfortunate times.

In addition to supporting employees and families impacted, chambers and associations can share these resources with their membership to ensure broader support. Addressing immediate and long-term mental health needs will continue to be an ongoing priority. Though these events shatter our communities, we need to embrace one another and heal together. Chamber and business leaders in Pittsburgh and around the country can serve as the voice of business during this time, and be a conduit for driving community healing and progress.