What happens to the Tree of Life synagogue building after the trial?

Since the morning in October 2018 when a gunman killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the somber building complex has been by turns a crime scene, a place of mourning and the subject of long, emotional discussions about its future.

Slowly, over months of deliberation, the Tree of Life congregation decided that the building would be both its home for worship again as well as a commemorative site, a center for communal events and a place for people from all over the world to learn about confronting hatred.

Daniel Libeskind, the architect known for memorializing historical trauma and a son of Holocaust survivors, was chosen to help turn that vision into structure.

Mr. Libeskind, who in 2003 won the competition to design the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks, had been in New York when the attack at Tree of Life occurred. It rattled him deeply, he said, that such an eruption of violent antisemitism could take place in America — the country his family had come to seeking freedom as Jews.

Mr. Libeskind would soon learn that the gunman had apparently chosen Tree of Life because one of the three congregations that worshiped there, Dor Hadash, had participated in a program for refugees with the charity HIAS. That group, under its original name, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, had given Mr. Libeskind’s family members financial assistance and helped them rent a home in Bronx public housing when they arrived as immigrants in 1959.

“That struck in my heart,” he said.

Many overlapping circles of people felt a stake in the decision to reopen Tree of Life: the victims’ families, the members of the three congregations that worshiped at the synagogue, the Pittsburgh Jewish community, the city at large, the country as a whole and people, Jewish and non-Jewish, all over the world.

Two of the congregations that were in the building during the attack — New Light and Dor Hadash — have found new homes within nearby synagogues. But Jeffrey Myers, the rabbi of the Tree of Life congregation, said a consensus had eventually formed among his members that they wanted to come back.

“As time went on, it became clearer through all of these conversations,” he said, “that the predominance was: We must return. If we don’t, we give the message that evil won, because it chased us out of our building.”

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