$6.6M Awarded to Tree of Life Center, Site of Massacre

PITTSBURGH (AP) -
Tree of Life center in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic/File)

The state of Pennsylvania has awarded $6.6 million for redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life center, where a gunman killed 11 people in 2018 in the nation’s deadliest attack on Jews.

The state funding will help “transform the site of the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history into a new place of hope, remembrance, and education,” the Wolf administration said in a news release.

Gov. Tom Wolf planned to hold a news conference on Monday afternoon to discuss the funding, which comes from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. Tree of Life was one of 16 community redevelopment projects statewide to receive a grant from the program.

Tree of Life has previously selected architect Daniel Libeskind, the master planner for the reconstruction of New York’s World Trade Center, to redesign the sprawling complex, with plans to share space with the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. The goal is to create a solemn memorial as well as a place of regular activity.

The defendant in the synagogue massacre awaits trial on more than 60 federal charges. Prosecutors are seeking a death sentence for 49-year-old Robert Bowers, who has pleaded not guilty.

Bowers opened fire during worship services inside Tree of Life center in October 2018, killing eight men and three women and wounding seven others before police tracked him down and shot him, according to state and federal officials.

The former truck driver expressed hatred of Jews before and during the rampage and later told police that “all these Jews need to die,” authorities have said.