The Tree of Life shooting inspired me to #OwnMyStar.



October 25, 2021

“I was a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, the day of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that took the lives of 11 Jewish people. I remember certain bits of that day very vividly. I can still hear the never-ending sirens blaring over and over into the morning. I remember crying on the phone with my mom and asking the unanswerable question of why? I remember suddenly being aware of how prominent my gold necklace was, sporting a hamza, announcing my identity that now felt like a brand, seared onto my chest. I tucked my necklace underneath my shirt and zipped up my coat over it.

“Now, as a senior, not a day passes where I do not wear my necklace, over my shirt, where everyone can see it. Never again will I allow my hamza, a sign of protection, to be perverted into a target. I am proud to be Jewish and I am proud to #OwnMyStar.

“Last week, the greatest minds in government, academia, law, and many other fields came to Pittsburgh for the Eradicate Hate Global Summit – a convention created by University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University’s Collaboratory Against Hate. I got to attend the summit and hear international leaders brainstorm ways to actively fight against hatred and antisemitism. The start of my college experience was irrevocably marked by the events of October 27. Three years later, the end of it is being marked by the Pittsburgh Jewish community’s strength, resilience, and commitment to preventing this hatred from resurfacing in any other community or city.” — Dionna Dash, University of Pittsburgh ’22