The congregation of Temple Shalom in Succasunna felt a strong bond with those at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, following the horrific October 27, 2018 massacre of 11 worshipers there during Shabbat services. As a show of support, a group of Temple Shalom members traveled to Pittsburgh to worship at Tree of Life soon after the shooting.
In response to this unconscionable act, the Temple Shalom community formed a committee to create a lasting memorial to honor the fallen at Tree of Life, and this beautiful piece was crafted to be on permanent display in the Succasunna synagogue. Among the committee members were NCJW, West Morris members Shirley Bauer (and her husband Stu) and Lee Dornfeld. The Tree of Life Memorial artist was Margaret “Maggie” Green, who did the work at GlassWorks Studio in Morristown, owned by Stacey Schlosser.
In fashioning this memorial, committee members envisioned a big, beautiful tree, full of life, that is suddenly struck by a violent force, causing it to split in half. As a result, the tree begins falling, each side away from the other. The black leaves at the base represent the 11 victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. These leaves are scattered to show each as an individual loss. One leaf is larger than the others; this stands for the married couple who were murdered that day. The open Torah scroll above signifies the spiritual bond between the congregation of Temple Shalom and the congregation of the Tree of Life synagogue.
At the dedication of the memorial in January, speakers included Rosanne Levine, congregation member of the Tree of Life synagogue; Donna Chalef, congregation member of Temple Shalom and a member of the Temple Shalom memorial committee; Dov Ben-Shimon, executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest; Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Rabbi David Saperstein, president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism; Russell Robinson, CEO of the Jewish National Fund; Fred Hall, deputy mayor of Roxbury (Succasunna is a section of Roxbury); the Reverend Carrie Morgan, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna and coordinator of Roxbury Interfaith Clergy; Andrew Gross, executive director of NJ-Israel Commission; Rabbi Inna Serebro-Litvak; and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ).