A parade of hundreds marched down Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill on Sunday to celebrate the Jewish community’s newest Torah. 

The procession began on the corner of Murray Avenue and Beacon Street and made its way to Shaare Torah Congregation, where the scroll will be housed. 

The Torah was sponsored by Anthony Fienberg and his family in honor of his late parents, Joyce and Dr. Stephen Fienberg. 

The parade, comprising members of the Jewish community — young and old, and of all denominations — took approximately a half-hour to reach the synagogue as celebrants frequently stopped to break into dance and song. The newly completed Torah was held by various community members beneath a traditional chuppah.

Women dance and sing during a procession to celebrate the completion of a new Torah dedicated to Joyce Fienberg, one of the 11 victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, and her husband, Dr. Stephen Fienberg, as the crowd makes its way down Murray Avenue from Beacon Street to Shaare Torah Congregation in Squirrel Hill, Sunday, July 30, 2023.

In a wheelchair, Pittsburgh police Officer Daniel Mead took part in the procession and helped support the chuppah for part of the Torah’s journey. 

Mead, one of the first to respond to the attack at the Tree of Life building, was shot in his attempt to stop the massacre. Joyce Fienberg was murdered that day along with 10 other congregants from three congregations. Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Smidga, another first responder who was wounded by the shooter, also attended the Torah dedication. 

In remarks after the procession reached Shaare Torah, Anthony Fienberg said the day was significant to his family and that he dedicated the Torah in honor of his parents. He said he was carrying on their legacy of kindness, generosity and love of Judaism. 

“It is something that we believe is not only a gift to the generations to come but proving that we still value the continuation of the most important aspects of Judaism, proving that irreplaceable link from generation to generation,” he said. 

Stephen Fienberg was an internationally acclaimed professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University. He died in 2016 at age 74. 

Shaare Torah Rabbi Yitzi Genack said that it was a privilege for his congregation to house the Torah. 

“This occasion is about connecting to the past and looking with vision towards the future,” he said. “We are privileged to join Anthony and Magali [Fienberg] in dedicating this Torah scroll in memory of Anthony’s parents.” 

Rabbi Yitzi Genack, of Shaare Torah Congregation, carries the Torah.

The Torah was written in Israel, Anthony Fienberg said, and was brought to Paris, where he lives with his family, for his son’s bar mitzvah. He brought the scroll to Pittsburgh on June 27, and it was completed the morning of the dedication at the 10.27 Healing Partnership, “in memory of the 11 kedoshim, the holy souls, that we unfortunately lost almost five years ago.”

In addition to Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Dan Stein, Irving Younger, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, Melvin Wax and Rose Mallinger were murdered at the Tree of Life building. Asked what he believed his parents would think of the procession, Anthony Fienberg replied, “I think they had a really good time.” 

This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial by the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Union Progress in a collaboration supported by funding from the Pittsburgh Media Partnership.

David Rullo
David writes for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and can be reached at drullo@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

David Rullo

David writes for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and can be reached at drullo@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.