Song in Memory of the Pittsburgh Eleven on the One Year Anniversary

This melody (niggun) is composed in memory of the eleven women and men murdered in the massacre at the Tree of Life (Etz Hayim) Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The grim one year anniversary falls this Sunday, October 27.

The words reflect the outpouring of love that followed this horror. People of all backgrounds streamed to the site to offer sympathy, reflecting the sentiment of the Psalmist, We are with you in your distress – Imo anochi be’tzara. As dark a time as it was, the overflowing light of the millions who came forward to share in the grief echoed the Hassidic teaching, A little bit a light pushes away an abundance of darkness – k’tzat min ha’or doheh harbeh min ha-hoshech.

The names of the slain are called out amidst the collage of ancient holy words, in an ultimate tribute. And who can ever forget the headline of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in large Hebrew letters: Yitgadel Ve’yitkadesh Shmeih Rabbah –- the text of the Kaddish, the Memorial Prayer for the dead.

And then, a final cry. Ad matai, Ad matai–When will it end?  In Pittsburgh, San Diego, Kenya, New Zealand…

In tribute to Congregation Tree of Life, the melody shifts midway to the tune of the prayer Etz Hayim Hi (it is a tree of life), sung when returning the Torah to the Ark.

Coming from the heart, the niggun is melancholy yet hopeful–the hope that soon, soon, the light will push away the darkness.

As people came together to share in the sorrow, so this niggun is meant to be shared, to be passed around and to be spread–the teaching, the memory, the healing.


Chaim Fruchter: vocals, guitar

Yoshie Fruchter: guitars, bass, banjo, mandolin, percussion

Jeremy Brown: violin

Avi Bloom: visual montage

The melody was composed and paired to words by Avi Weiss

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