My stepdaughter Alice lives in Squirrel Hill. We visited a couple Mays ago for her Masters graduation. We went to see Vance Gilbert at a Squirrel Hill house concert happening on the same weekend. The Tree of Life synagogue https://www.tolols.org is a five-minute walk from Alice’s house.
Through the horrific and heart wrenching shooting I’ve come to learn more about Squirrel Hill. One, that it was the home of Mister Rogers. But even more notably, that it’s one of our first United State’s homes to the Jewish Reform movement – a practice based on the evolving nature of faith rather than a practice steeped in staid doctrine.
From childhood Judaism drew me in. By choice, around age twelve, I read Chaim Potok’s The Promise and The Chosen. In college, Elie Wiesel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elie_Wiesel and Chaim Potok https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaim_Potok were two of the three most riveting speakers I heard – Maya Angelou being the third.
However, it was in Amherst when I attended the funeral of a professor’s spouse shortly after the death of my mother that the evolving nature of Judaic faith deeply touched me, for the rabbi said, “God, please accept that we are going to be angry.”
I felt accepted and welcomed.