Rooted in ancestral soil amid Israel’s northern mountainous terrain, 11 trees were dedicated in Karmiel’s Pittsburgh-Baltimore Promenade, a landscaped stone setting established nearly a decade earlier through the Partnership2Gether program.
Given the surroundings and the events that followed, which included a wreath-laying, a collective kaddish and the singing of “Hatikva,” “it was a really beautiful and powerful ceremony,” said Brian Eglash, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s senior vice president and chief development officer.
Eglash was one of nearly 80 people, including politicians, representatives of the Jewish Federation and members of the Rosenthal family, who attended the June 17 event in the Steel City’s sister city.
Brothers David and Cecil Rosenthal were among those murdered at Tree of Life. Joy Rosenthal, Cecil and David Rosenthal’s mother, said that having the opportunity to light a candle for each of the 11 victims and being able to remember them in such a meaningful way “is something our sister city can be truly proud of.”
Among those who spoke at the dedication were Diane and Michele Rosenthal, Cecil and David’s sisters, who expressed appreciation for the unwavering support offered to families of each of the 11 victims following Oct. 27.
The outpouring of love from those in Karmiel and across Israel has been truly appreciated, noted Joy.
“We can’t begin to tell you. I mean, everybody here has put their hearts out to us and what we tell them is that this is giving us the strength to pull through this,” she said.
Last week’s visit was the Rosenthal matriarch’s first return to Israel since participating in a 1991 United Jewish Federation mission. Placing those trips in context is “mind boggling,” she said.
There are “such determined people, especially the young people of today,” who experience constant threat, and what they have been able to accomplish is remarkable. “I mean, they go on with living, like you and I go on with living, and don’t think about what can happen the next day.”
Despite daily struggles, there has been a continuous stream of warmth and consolation offered since Oct. 27, she added.
Rosenthal appreciates such kindness and recognizes the mutual value afforded.
Back in Pittsburgh, “we as a family always made Cecil and David part of the community,” she said. “How much the Squirrel Hill community made of Cecil and David, what they added to their life you can’t buy.”
Michele Rosenthal agreed.
“We’re so fortunate to live in such a supportive community in Squirrel Hill and the greater Pittsburgh community, but we have not been forgotten around the world.”
Being able to participate in this ceremony where each of the 11 victims was recognized is reminiscent of what “my mom and dad always say,” continued Rosenthal.
“We just don’t want people to forget. And I think this affirmed that people have not forgotten.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.