Iranian immigrant raises over 1m. for Pittsburgh synagogue

Shay Khatiri, an Iranian immigrant to the United States, has raised more than $1 million for Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation, the synagogue that was the site of the deadly Shabbat morning shooting that left 11 dead.

“Honestly, after what has happened with this fundraising, I don’t think I’m ever going to be surprised by someone’s generosity,” Khatiri told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a Thursday interview, as the GoFundMe account he had begun in the wake of the October 26 shooting by antisemitic assailant Robert Bowers.

Khatiri, a graduate student at John Hopkins University, does not himself live in Pittsburgh. However, a conversation with a Jewish friend spurred him to begin the account.

“I had created GoFundMe accounts before, just to raise money for myself as a young intern living in an expensive city like Washington with little money,” Khatiri said in an interview with the Post-Gazette. “I had some modest success, raised maybe $1,500 each time. And I thought if I did something for Tree of Life and it went viral, it could maybe raise something like $50,000. That was passed in a few hours.”

“Basically, this has been consuming most of my life,” Khatiri added. “I’m so behind in school that I need to catch up.”

Read the full story from 2018 in The Jerusalem Post.