On the Saturday morning of October 27, 2018, Maxine Schwartz sat in the first pew at Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, New Jersey, surrounded by family and friends. She beamed with pride, as her third and youngest son, Leo, became a bar mitzvah. He read Torah, delivered his first D’varah Torah and led their community in prayer. Unbeknownst to the Schwartz family, the largest massacre of Jews in the United States was unraveling during a Shabbat service much like their own - in a synagogue that was filled with proud Jews praying, celebrating and coming together to share Shabbat.
To stall the reality of what had happened in Pittsburgh, no-one mentioned the massacre to the Schwartzes. Maxine, Rob, and their sons Noah, Adam and Leo were blissfully unaware of what was happening outside of their own synagogue that day.
The Schwartz family had no previous connection to the Squirrel Hill Synagogue and had rooted against the Steelers whenever they played their beloved Philadelphia Eagles. However, the story of Leo’s jewish journey and Maxine’s generosity would forever be tied to the healing of the Tree of Life Synagogue and their extended community.
As the massacre became a painful reality, Maxine knew she had to do something to help Squirrel Hill. With the family’s long standing commitment to Tikkun Olam, she knew that she could use her talents and abilities to create a community of people to come together to repair the world.
As the owner of a jewelry company intrinsically tied to doing good, MAS Designs, Maxine has created a community through the language of her designs to bring out people's inner and outer beauty. She knew her like-minded customers would want to make a difference, take a stance against hate and do it together as a community. Maxine created a Tree of Life necklace fundraiser. All profits from each necklace went directly to benefit the Squirrel Hill community through the Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. In just a few short weeks, MAS Designs and its’ international community raised over $30,000, and provided an opportunity for a like-minded community to make a difference. Women all over the world, are wearing their Tree of Life necklaces to remind them that there is no place for hate in our world, and love will always win.