Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Squirrel Hill Restaurants Step Up after Synagogue Attack

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Squirrel Hill Restaurants Step Up after Synagogue Attack

Article excerpt

In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday, an outpouring of support from the Squirrel Hill community to the victims' families, synagogue and law enforcement authorities also has come in the way of food from local restaurants and grocery stores.

For Pam Cohen and Gail Klingensmith, owners of Pamela's Diner and Nu Modern Jewish Bistro, the attack on the Tree of Life Congregation was an attack on their Squirrel Hill family. Even though neither of them live in the neighborhood, they think of it as home, as they opened the first Pamela's in Squirrel Hill.

"It's a place where everybody knows your name," Ms. Klingensmith says. "So the attack hurts your heart."

Ms. Cohen grew up at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Wightman Street and attended religious school every Tuesday at Tree of Life. It's also where she and her three sisters were confirmed. "Our pictures are still on the wall," she says.

Some of the murdered victims were regular customers at Pamela's, including brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal -Ms. Cohen's cousins. They were very gentle boys who grew up to be very gentle men, Ms. Klingensmith recalls, and "Cecil would come to the restaurant every day after school."

Irving Younger, 69, of Mount Washington used to have a business in Squirrel Hill, and he and his first wife were regulars at Pamela's since it opened in 1980. "We felt we grew up with him," Ms. Klingensmith says. Ms. Cohen also knew him from their Allderdice High School days; she is a year younger than him.

All weekend proceeds from Pamela's and Nu are being given to Tree of Life, and "we are leaving it to the synagogue to use the money for whatever it thinks is the right thing to do. It doesn't fix anything but it is a good way to start healing," Ms. Klingensmith says.

When the police cars were "whizzing by every 30 seconds" on Murray Avenue, Chris Riding, who owns Pastoli's, knew something wasn't right. Upon hearing what had happened at Tree of Life, he quickly prepared four large pizzas thinking it could be for the police or the victims' families who had gathered near the synagogue. As he approached the synagogue, he was stopped by the police every step of the way. They wanted to know what he was doing walking around with pizzas.

"Every time I was stopped, I would explain that I own a pizza shop and wanted to bring the pizzas to anyone who would want them," he says. "Finally, I ran into a lady who took them. I didn't look back to see who she gave it to - the police or the families. …

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