Michael F. Atlas-Acuna, president of Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, recently shared with the Intermountain Jewish News the congregation’s actions to support the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, following the deadly shooting there on Oct. 27, 2018.
In October, Atlas-Acuna was contacted by the Pueblo Chieftain for his reaction to the shooting. In the Chieftain story that followed, Temple Emanuel committed to raising funds and having a plaque made in the memory of the Pittsburgh victims. The temple raised $1,500 from the Jewish and larger Pueblo community. Joe Kornwitter, a local artist and carpenter who is not Jewish, donated, designed, produced and mounted the plaque.
An unveiling ceremony for the plaque, conducted by Rabbi Roberta Becker, is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2019 during Shabbat services. The public is invited to attend.
“Our congregation felt strongly that the Pueblo community needed to know that we did what we said we would do and that was to have a plaque made with the donations,” said Atlas-Acuna.
Marc Schuman, a member of Temple Emanuel and a photographer, took a photo of the plaque and had it mounted and framed. The temple is sending that photograph to Tree of Life, along with $1,000 that remained from donations after the plaque was finished.
“I felt this project was important because this attack on the Pittsburgh Jewish community was an attack on all Jews,” Atlas-Acuna said, while also expressing concerns about the rising level of Jew hatred.
The involvement of Pueblo’s larger community also had a major impact on Atlas-Acuna.
“That Pueblo’s non-Jewish community responded with solidarity for Pueblo Jews . . . moved me to make sure we did something that was meaningful,” he said.