Tree of Life for Pittsburgh

On Saturday October 27, 2018, at 9:45 A.M., our world as we knew it changed forever, again.Feeling hopeless, shocked and filled with deep anguish, my thoughts ran immediately to “what can I do?” As a psychotherapist and a textile artist, my two worlds combine hope, love, creativity and creating a sacred space for healing to take place. For decades, I have been making textile Trees of Life and I knew instinctively, that if ever there was a time for me to create one, this was it.

On Sunday evening October 28, I emailed Kathleen Lynch, my dear friend and Vice President of the Shelter Island School Board, where I live part-time. I asked Kathleen if she could help me gather Shelter Island students, to work with together with me to create the Tree of Life for Pittsburgh Synagogue.

My instinct to want to include innocent, untainted, unbiased words from children was something I felt was urgently needed to be a part of this Tree of Life. I envisioned creating eleven branches, eleven birds, and hand created leaves filled with messages from our hearts to the families and friends from the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue Community.

Without hesitation, that Sunday evening, Dr. Christine Finn, Principal of the Shelter Island Union Free School School, immediately coordinated with her art teacher Stephanie Sareyani, and by Monday morning, my vision was embraced and fully supported. My reaction to these murders was to take my pain and loss of control, and turn it into something beautiful in the face of anti-Semitism and hatred.

The outpouring of love, basic goodness and support from this small, caring community was overwhelming. My passion for this project took me through the dark, cold winter months, and involved literally hundreds of people, from all walks of life.

I am forever grateful to each and every one of them.

Together, we have created, expressed and are sending love, hope, compassion, peace, prayers and most importantly, the knowledge that we stand fiercely connected to all of the congregants, families and members of the Tree of Life Synagogue Community.

You are not alone.

Never again.

Susan Schrott