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Just before 8 October 27th, Emmy winning actress Rena Sofer drove home in southern California after releasing her daughter when she received a shocking conversation from a friend.
"He said in principle" Are you okay? "I said," I'm fine, why? "" Remember Sofer, famous for her role as the intense and mysterious Quinn Fuller Forrester, a jewelry designer, on the CBS soap opera "The Fat and the Beautiful."
The friend broke the dreadful news.
Back in Pittsburgh, where Sofer spent many of her formative years as part of local Jewish society, a gunman stormed in the Synagogue Tree of Life, killing 11 people in a hate crime – the worst attack on Jews in American history.
"When we hear about these scots and we hear about these massacres ongoing, we know humanity," said Sofer. "When you suddenly hear about it in your home, it becomes deeper and much more of an intense feeling."
Sofer – daughter of late Martin Sofer, a conservative rabbi – was born in California. When her parents divorced, Rena Sofer moved with her father and brother, David, to Teaneck, N.J., 1970, when she was 5, moved to western Pennsylvania. They lived in Ambridge, Beaver County; There, Rabbi Sofer led Beth Samuel's Jewish Center after the Aliquippa Jewish Center merged in the congregation.
Every day, the rabbit ran his children in the squirrel height, where Rena participated in the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh and Yeshiva Achei Tmimim Schools. She lived here at the end of the seventh grade when her family moved back to New Jersey. A New York agent discovered Sofer when she was a teenager, and she worked with modeling before joining the actor.
Today's TV veteran won a best supporting actress Daytime Emmy in 1995 for his former role as Lois Cerullo at "General Hospital."
Memories of her long-lasting childhood in Pittsburgh may have been fuzzy, but Sofer maintains a soft place and strong love for the region. Sofer has no longer family here, but she has friends who still have family living in the region. Pittsburgh has often been called one of the safest cities in America, she said, and it makes squirrel shooting even more shocking.
"The thing with Pittsburgh is that I have to grow up in one place when I can run out like a child, go to a park and drive a few blocks down the street," said Sofer, who has appeared in many primetime shows, including "NCIS "and" Ghost Whisperer. "
"For that kind of violence to happen in that kind of society, it is so dissuasive for the people of Pittsburgh," said Sofer, who has also acted in movies, including "Keeping Faith" and "Traffic." "The people are about security and about goodness and about society."
One of the most moving things about shooting, many say, that some Jewish medical staff treated gunman Robert Bowers at Allegheny General Hospital. Nurse Ari Mahler wrote a public Facebook post on how he treated Bowers as another patient, although he shouted "Death to all Jews!" The post became viral and has more than 265,000 likes.
The medical team's actions show what Judaism is about, said Sofer.
"Jewish people through history have been persecuted … and constantly face hate and attacks," she said. "Yet we have always strived to be a part of society."
The Jewish law is "very clear that you do everything you can to save a human life." The only time you are not when your life is in danger, Sofer said. "Saving someone's life becomes more important than religion than politics than anything else. "
Sofere's Jewish faith remains a major part of her life; Her younger daughter, Avalon, only had her batmitzvah at her synagogue in the Los Angeles area. Her older daughter, Rosabel, is in Vienna at Fulbright Scholarship; she studies anti-Semitic art.
Rabbi Sofer, who died in 2011 at the age of 86, attended Yeshiva University in New York and received a doctorate in Jewish history and the Hebrew language. He served in Israel's independent war in 1948. Father Sister's father was quiet and private, and not a very political person – but she said he would have calmed deeply after the shot if he lived.
"He gave up for his fellowship," she said. "In addition to that, I would hope maybe (shooting) would have caused him to be more of an activist in his society, as opposed to just a spiritual leader."
One of Sofer's favorite poems – "For Who Bell Tolls", by John Donne – describes her feelings about Pittsburgh's tragedy. The verses – including "No one is an island, all of himself; every man is part of the continent, part of the head" – reminding us that we are all connected to people, she said.
The US gunwheel epidemic is out of control, and selected officials need to do something to reduce it, said Sofer, who criticized President Trump for nationalist rhetoric that shares people. Nobody wants to take all weapons, but we need more restrictive arms laws, for example, making it more difficult for dangerous people to get weapons, she said.
"I feel like the thing I make the most of Pittsburgh is … it's incredibly clear that we in this country are in a place where it's in our hands," said Sofer. "We have the power to stand up and say no."
Hopefully, Pittsburgh's synagogue teaches us "that we are all Americans, and we must be there for each other," she said. "It's okay to have different ideals … but it's not ok to destroy each other and kill each other."
Kellie B. Gormly is a freelance writer.