The Pittsburgh tragedy impacts family of former OWU student

By Spencer Pauley, Managing Editor

The shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27 impacted the lives of individuals, families, a city, and an entire nation.

It was a Saturday morning when an assailant by the name of Robert Bowers came into the Tree of Life and killed 11 people attending. Making this incident the deadliest attack in the Jewish community in United States history.

Two of those victims were relatives of Ohio Wesleyan alum, Rebecca Sufrin. Sufrin lost her cousin, Daniel Stein and Melvin Wax, the father of another cousin of her’s. Sufrin’s family is from Pittsburgh and they had been involved members of the Tree of Life for three generations.

That Saturday would be an emotional day for Sufrin. She had driven through Squirrel Hill, the area where the Tree of Life synagogue resides that morning prior to the shooting. She then received a text notifying her of an active shooter.

“I was shocked and confused,” Sufrin said. “I was asking myself, ‘how could this be?’”

Sufrin drove home in a panic, Stein was the first person she and her family were concerned about. Sufrin met up with her sister and watched the TV waiting for more information. Hours went by without any information on Stein. So Sufrin and her family drove to the Stein residence to meet with his wife and children.

“We were just trying to surround the family with love and support,” Sufrin said.

It was late that Saturday night when the FBI finally came to the house to deliver the news to the Stein residence: Daniel Stein was a victim of the shooting at the Tree of Life. Stein’s family was one of the last to be contacted regarding the status of the victims.

Chaplain Jon Powers went on a mission trip to Pittsburgh in 2016 with a mission team. Sufrin was one of the hosts of that trip. Powers is partnering with Ben Gelber, the weatherman for NBC4 in Columbus and the leader of the Klezmer concert group, to offer a benefit concert on Nov. 26 in the Bennes room.

“The event would be held in sacred memory of those who lost their lives last Shabbat morning and to bless Becca [Sufrin] and her family,” Powers said.

It’s been two weeks since the shooting in Pittsburgh. The community of the city has been surreal, according to Sufrin.

“I have the best community,” Sufrin said. “It has been surreal to see billboards on every big corner and people raising money at their businesses.”

Sufrin graduated from OWU in 2014. Despite it being four years since her time as a student, she has seen support from her former classmates recently.

“I have had numerous OWU friends send flowers and care packages,” Sufrin said. “I’m eternally grateful for the friendships I’ve made at OWU.”