Candlelight Vigil Honors the Victims of the Pittsburgh Shooting

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Candlelight Vigil Honors the Victims of the Pittsburgh Shooting

By Lauren Reiser, Sophomore Editor

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On the morning of Saturday, October 27, inside Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, a man armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle opened fire, yelling “All Jews must die,” killing 11 people and injuring several others. Police officers responding to the scene exchanged gunfire with the assailant before he surrendered. Both congregants and police officers were among the victims. The shooter has been charged with 29 criminal counts including obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs and using a firearm to commit murder.

This tragedy is the deadliest attack ever committed against the United State’s Jewish community. Many people believe President Trump’s often controversial speech has emboldened racists to act on their hateful beliefs. According to The New York Times, “The assault on the synagogue … came amid a bitter, vitriolic midterm election season and against the backdrop of what appears to be a surge in hate-related speech and crimes across America.”

This horrific attack has shocked many, like Wayne Hills Junior Angela Reyzelman, who was left feeling devastated and heartbroken. “When I heard about what happened. It really hit me on a personal level, and I even attended a memorial dinner. It really is terrible.”

On the Monday following the shooting, Shomrei Torah, Wayne’s Conservative synagogue, hosted a candlelight vigil to honor the deceased and show the town’s support for the victims and their families. There were numerous speakers of many different religious backgrounds, including Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Muslim, and Hindu. Each of the speakers, including Mayor Vergano, expressed solidarity with the Jewish community and lit a candle to honor one of the victims. In his opening remarks, Barry Blecherman, the synagogue’s president, made the point that this shooting was not just an attack on Jews, but on our country’s ideals. He told the assembled crowd, “[t]his was an attack on Jews and Judaism. . . . This was also an attack on 298 years of the founding American principle of religious liberty. This was an attack on each of us here.”

This vigil brought together the community in a time of despair and showed a united front against anti-semitism and religious bigotry.

Personally, this shooting hit home for me, as a Jewish student, and left me saddened to see innocent lives taken for no reason. People should not be targeted because of their faith, and no one should feel unsafe in their holy place of worship.

After yet another tragedy, our country must reevaluate the gun laws that allow such massacres like this to occur. We must put our differences aside and unite to fight against hate and violence, and work towards building a society where everyone is treated with respect.

 

 

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