(FOX 11) - Ever since a gunman attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue I’ve been thinking back to my childhood and talking with my cousin who still lives there.
Until I was 13 I lived in Squirrel Hill. It was at that point we moved to Dallas, Texas which I’ve always considered my home… where I grew up. But, with what happened over the weekend I’m giving that some thought and doing a lot of thinking about a place I sort of thought of as Pleasantville.
My cousin, Michelle Mark, lives right by Tree of Life synagogue. After the attack she was, like many in that community numb. She tells me, "It just took my breath away. I couldn't believe this was happening in my neighborhood.”
She knew four of the 11 victims. Just saw one of them, Daniel Stein, Friday.
She says, "I've been living here most of my life and never thought it would happen. In the back of your head you always think something is going to happen."
But, not what happened Saturday. Not an active shooter in a house of God during Shabbat services.
Says Michelle, "People going to synagogue on a normal Saturday and they were shot because they were Jewish."
She was at the vigil in her neighborhood. It gave her a good feeling, “because they’re all praying for us. And, it’s nice to feel that connection.”
This has been hard on her. She says, "Being a Jewish person in this community its been a struggle... it's hard. But, yesterday seeing how everybody is coming together -- it gives a glimmer of hope."
On the Monday-after at the synagogue where she teaches "the parents gave us hugs. Some brought us treats, but the children gave us the hope."
As for the attack, she says, "I can't process it. We're struggling with knowing its a hate crime."
But, Michelle says it's not going to break this community, but make it stronger. She says the resolve in the neighborhood is that love must replace hate.
The way she puts it, "We're going to get up in the morning. The sun is going to shine. And, we're going to go on living life. "
But, it may be tough. Streets are still closed in the area. The first funerals for the victims will be held Tuesday. And, Robert Bowers, the accused-shooter, is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Thursday.