By Mahita Gajanan
November 3, 2018

The widow of television icon Fred Rogers offered words of hope and love to congregants gathered at the first Shabbat services in Pittsburgh since 11 people were killed in a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.

Joanne Rogers seemed to echo her husband with a message that tried to reassure the crowd packed into the Rodel Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh.

“I want to tell you how wonderful you are,” she said. “How beautiful you are. I love you.”

Rogers addressed the crowd after Rabbi Aaron Bisno put on a sweater in homage to her husband, who was known for rarely ever being without one. The past week has seen numerous people invoke quotes from Fred Rogers, who made his home in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting occurred.

“This is literally Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood,” was a common refrain among those in Squirrel Hill as people tried to square the pain and terror caused by the shooting with the fact that a man who so embodied kindness had lived there for so long.

While addressing congregants, Joanne Rogers said she also was facing difficulty wrapping her head around the shooting.

“It’s been confusing for me. I’ve been frightened,” she said. “I have had trouble dealing with the fact that this happened, I don’t want to give credit to the fact that it happened.”

Write to Mahita Gajanan at [email protected].

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