Pittsburgh Post-Gazette donates $15K Pulitzer award to repair Tree of Life synagogue

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette donates $15K Pulitzer award to repair Tree of Life synagogue
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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette donated the $15,000 Pulitzer Prize monetary award given for its coverage of the October mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue to help the organization rebuild. 

The newspaper announced Wednesday that the staff decided to give the check to Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and Samuel Schachner, president of the congregation in Squirrel Hill, late last month.

The newspaper was awarded with the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News reporting for its “immersive, compassionate coverage” of the Oct. 27 shooting that left 11 worshippers dead.

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“Staffers felt the horrendous events of that day made it difficult to fully savor one of the country's highest honors for journalistic achievement,” the newspaper wrote. “And splitting the monetary award among those who had participated in the news coverage just didn’t seem right.”

Post-Gazette Publisher John Robinson Block suggested donating the prize money to repair the synagogue, left riddled with bullet holes after a gunman opened fire on the congregation with the aim of killing Jews. The mass shooting remains the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. 

“Rabbi Myers, when the unthinkable happened at Tree of Life, it was our job to tell the story,” executive editor Keith Burris said when presenting the check. “And to tell the backstory. We did our duty. It was our honor to do it. Nothing about doing our duty makes us noble or exceptional. But the duty itself was and is noble.”

The synagogue thanked the Post-Gazette in a Facebook post, writing that “Pittsburgh is truly home to some amazing neighbors!”

The newspaper will also sponsor a yearly gathering named after Block’s grandmother, Dina Wallach Block, who was the wife of newspaper publisher and philanthropist Paul Block Sr. The Dina Wallach Block Symposium will be in "honor of the victims of the Tree of Life shootings and devoted to an exploration of how free speech and free thought can be used to confront hate speech and violence and overcome both with decency and love.”