New art exhibit in Forest Hills helps raise funds for victims of mass shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue

Courtesy of David Chatowsky

An eatery in the heart of Forest Hills will host an art show beginning next month to raise funds for the victim’s of last year’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“The Tree of Life Exhibit” opens at the Red Pipe Cafe on May 1, featuring a unique collaboration of 9 Rhode Island-based artists will display nearly 40 works that convey peace and harmony while allocating a portion of the proceeds to help families that lost loved ones during the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October.

Forest Hill’s historian Michael Perlman met artist and gallery owner David Chatowsky during a trip to Newport last fall and arranged to bring the exhibit back to Forest Hills for a “highly beneficial cause” that will remain on show at the Red Pipe Cafe for three months.

“The arts are universal and can serve as a platform for committing good deeds, particularly in memory of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue,” Perlman said.

In what the Anti-Defamation League called “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States,” a gunman burst into the house of worship during Shabbat services on October 27, killing 11 and wounding 7. The synagogue shared space with the New Light Congregation and Congregation Dor Hadash, and all three congregations lost members in the horrific attack.

“My mission is to bring people together through art to create a better future,” Chatowsky explained. “When I heard about the Pittsburgh massacre, I felt compelled to help. It is my belief that we are all part of one human family, and when a part of the human family is hurting, I feel it is everyone’s responsibility to help. It is very important to use the gifts we have been given to bring peace and harmony to this world. I truly hope the Forest Hills community can lend their support, as the success of this exhibit and fundraiser depends on them.”

The oil paintings that Chatowsky will showcase are images of his memories of the fields and forests that he would explore in his youth.

“I started this series of paintings four years ago to bring the peace and harmony I felt as a child back into my life,” Chatowsky said. “It is my hope that the exhibit’s guests and patrons will feel the intrinsic connection which the artists have to nature, and this feeling will help them cultivate a personal relationship with the natural world.”

For Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg, a Tree of Life congregation board member, the collaboration is symbolic of the overwhelming support for the freedom of religion and right to worship free from all fear.

“After witnessing first-hand the horrific nature of human evil, we are heartened by the ongoing evidence of how many wonderful, thoughtful people there are in the world,” she said. “Tree of Life members are deeply touched by the generous decision to share a portion of these proceeds with the Tree of Life congregation. We are moved by the desire to support us and take great comfort and strength from it.”

The Red Pipe Cafe, located at 71-60 Austin St. and owned by Rene David Alkalay and Ofer Kertes, offers a full line of organic and vegan dishes in addition to its art gallery.

“I am happy to provide a platform for the arts and to support artists at our venue,” Alkalay said. “We strive to continue the mission to support the arts by accommodating artists such as David Chatowsky, and look forward to The Tree of Life Exhibit.”

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