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Unveiling Emotions: Documentary on Tree of Life Shooting Sparks Strong Feelings

Rabbi David Kaplan, who never personally encountered Rose Mallinger, maintains her photograph at Congregation Ohav Zedek in Wilkes-Barre as a poignant reminder. Mallinger, at the age of 97, tragically became the eldest among the 11 individuals who lost their lives in the horrific shootings at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018. Rabbi Kaplan expressed how profoundly the incident impacted both his life and the community, emphasizing the heightened sense of vulnerability they now experience in the aftermath of the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history.

Reflecting on the lasting impact of the tragedy, Rabbi Kaplan shared his daily ritual of gazing at Mallinger’s photo to honor her memory and the memories of all the victims. This practice serves as a solemn vow to never forget the lives lost. Recently, Kaplan seized the opportunity to meet with Mallinger’s children, a poignant moment that underscored the enduring bonds forged in the face of adversity.

The screening of a documentary at the Friedman Jewish Community Center in Kingston, sponsored by WVIA, provided a platform for survivors like Andrea Wedner to share their harrowing experiences and keep the legacy of their loved ones alive. Mallinger’s sons, Alan and Stanley Mallinger, along with Andrea Wedner and her husband Ron, attended the screening. Post-viewing discussions, including a panel featuring Rabbi Larry Kaplan from Temple Israel of Wilkes-Barre, aimed to engage audiences and foster dialogue on combating bigotry and antisemitism.

For Mallinger’s family, these engagements have evolved into a meaningful mission of advocacy and education, particularly targeting younger generations. By sharing their personal stories and insights, they strive to inspire positive change and cultivate awareness among students. The family’s dedication to eradicating hate and fostering inclusivity resonates deeply with audiences, prompting thoughtful reflections and a call to action against discrimination.

The emotional impact of these narratives extends beyond generational boundaries, touching the hearts of individuals like Shelly Farber, who recognized the ongoing challenges faced by Jewish communities, especially in rural settings. Farber’s sentiments underscore the importance of unity and resilience in the face of adversity, echoing the sentiments expressed by Rabbi David Kaplan regarding the prevailing sense of insecurity and the need for collective support.

In the wake of recent global events and escalating tensions, the message of love and unity championed by Rose Mallinger’s family stands as a beacon of hope and resilience. Their commitment to spreading kindness and fostering connections reflects Mallinger’s own compassionate spirit and unwavering belief in the power of human decency. As they continue to honor her legacy, Mallinger’s family remains steadfast in their mission to promote empathy, understanding, and a shared sense of community—a testament to the enduring impact of one woman’s extraordinary kindness and love for humanity.