I moved away from Pittsburgh in 1988 but as they say, “You can take the girl out of her hometown but you can’t take the hometown out of the girl.” Being from Pittsburgh is something akin to ethnicity. There is definitely a perpetual brotherhood in the Burgh that follows you through life, no matter how far from the Three Rivers you may roam. In Pittsburgh, we are family and if you visit us, then you are family, too.
Several weeks ago, my world was shaken to the core when a Pennsylvania Grand Jury published the names of hundreds of Catholic priests who were accused of sexual misconduct and heinous crimes against minors. I personally know several of the men whose names are on that list. It was gut wrenching.
Just when we Pittsburghers were pulling ourselves back up by our bootstraps and rallying around our Terrible Towels to rise above the atrocities that some of our own had committed, our earth once again came tumbling down when news of a mass shooting in a Jewish synagogue came at us from all sides.
While Tree of Life synagogue was bustling with the worship activity of its members, an assailant burst through its doors and opened fire. Sadly, 11 people died and six others suffered injuries. Police arrived on site and there was a brief exchange of gunfire before the man later identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers gave himself up to the officers at the scene. The eldest victim was fatally wounded at the age of 97.
Pittsburgh is a small melting pot within the larger melting pot of the nation as a whole. Italians, Greeks, Poles, Jewish people and more live and work alongside each other throughout the beautiful city and surrounding suburbs. Squirrel Hill, where a madman went on a killing spree, has always been known as a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.
In the Pittsburgh where I grew up, it would never have dawned on me or my peers that a person could be filled with such hatred toward a group of people that he or she would storm into a religious temple and start shooting people as they prayed. That tragic day is now listed as the deadliest onslaught against Jews ever in the history of the United States of America.
There is one thing that gives me solace in the aftermath of this horrific incident. I know that in the days and weeks and months ahead, Pittsburghers will do what they do best. They will reach out to those who are hurting. Race will not matter nor will ethnicity or faith. Those who are grieving will have arms to hold them and shoulders to cry on because the friendly city will come to the aid of its own, and those who mourning can trust that those of us living miles away from our beloved hometown are holding each and all of them in prayer.
Writer Bio: Judy Dudich
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.