(JTA) — Six days ago, on Shabbat, Rabbi Jonathan Perlman was hiding in a pitch-black storage closet as one of his congregants was shot dead in front of him. The time since has been filled with funerals, counseling congregants and figuring out how to move forward as a community, a city — and a rabbi.
Now, for the first time since the massacre that killed 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Perlman and his small congregation, New Light, will welcome Shabbat. It will be in a different building, with an armed guard outside and without three of the Conservative congregation’s most active members.
New Light will be meeting on its own Friday night. But on Saturday morning, Perlman and the leaders of the two other congregations that shared the targeted building, Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha and Dor Hadash, will preside over a combined service in the large sanctuary of another local Conservative synagogue, Beth Shalom, that is expected to draw hundreds of worshippers.
The Tree of Life building is closed for an investigation of the shooting, so its congregations must meet elsewhere.
“Hopefully when I get there, I’ll be feeling strengthened by everyone else around me,” Perlman told JTA on Friday afternoon.
“This Shabbat I hope to be the opposite of last Shabbat: We’ll get some rest,” Perlman told JTA, noting that Beth Shalom also would be celebrating the recent marriage of one of its clergy on Saturday. “There’s celebrations and tragedies, and we’re pulled — our emotions are pulled every which way. But it’s a renewal.”
This story "This Pittsburgh Rabbi Lost 3 Congregant. Now It’s Shabbat Again." was written by Ben Sales.