‘We have to do bet­ter’

Tem­ple Is­rael, com­mu­nity mourn Pitts­burgh vic­tims

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Ca­role Carl­son

Eleven blue and white can­dles burned brightly Fri­day evening as clergy and civic lead­ers came to Gary’s Tem­ple Is­rael for a vigil of sol­i­dar­ity for the vic­tims of the Oct. 27 mass shoot­ing at a Pitts­burgh sy­n­a­gogue.

“We’re here to remember the 11 but also show sup­port for all. … Our foun­da­tion is so­cial jus­tice, and we will con­tinue this mission. We are sur­vivors,” said Lisa Giglio, who led the Shab­bat ser­vice.

One by one, com­mu­nity and Tem­ple Is­rael mem­bers lit can­dles for the 11 mostly el­derly Jews killed at the Tree of Life sy­n­a­gogue last week.

The sus­pect, iden­ti­fied as Robert Bow­ers, 46, of Pitts­burgh, was armed with an as­sault ri­fle and three hand­guns, po­lice said. Po­lice said he yelled, “All Jews must die!” as he en­tered the Tree of Life sy­n­a­gogue.

Bow­ers, an anti-Semitic truck driver, pleaded not guilty Thurs­day to fed­eral charges in a 44-count in­dict­ment ac­cus­ing him of mur­der, hate crimes, ob­struct­ing the prac­tice of re­li­gion and other crimes. He was jailed with­out bail.

In on­line posts, Bow­ers had re­peated white su­prem­a­cist con­spir­acy the­o­ries. He called im­mi­grants “in­vaders” and said Jews were the enemy of whites.

Fri­day’s vigil drew about 150 peo­ple to Tem­ple Is­rael, a sy­n­a­gogue that first opened in down­town Gary in 1910. It es­tab­lished its cur­rent build­ing in Miller, near Lake Michi­gan, in 1958.

Sec­tions of Fri­day’s ser­vice were in He­brew as sy­n­a­gogue lead­ers ex­plained the mean­ing of the prayers and verses.

Mayor Karen Free­man-Wil­son lit a can­dle for one of the vic­tims.

In her re­marks, she said hear­ing the names and ages of the vic­tims made the tragedy more real than the news cov­er­age.

“The thing that res­onates with me then and now as I see the things that are hap­pen­ing across this room is we know bet­ter. ... But know­ing bet­ter and do­ing bet­ter are two dis­tinct things. ... We have to do bet­ter.”

She said even though the Tree of Life mas­sacre hap­pened 500 miles away, the Gary com­mu­nity came to­gether in sol­i­dar­ity.

“The more we do this as an af­fir­ma­tive mes­sage to each other, it says we are bet­ter than the ha­tred, the di­vi­sive­ness ... all of those things that cause peo­ple to mag­nify our dif­fer­ences.”

Re­tired Dio­cese of Gary Bishop Dale Mel­czek, who serves as pas­tor of St. Mary of the Lake, said he came to stand in sol­i­dar­ity with those in pain and sor­row.

“We come to­gether to con­demn the vi­o­lence and hate that in­di­vid­u­als per­pe­trate on oth­ers. ... These dis­gust­ing and sin­ful acts re­mind us how we have to con­tinue our ef­forts to erad­i­cate anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms,” he said.

The Rev. Joan Meir, of Peace United Church of Christ in

Mer­ril­lville, pre­sented the sy­n­a­gogue’s pres­i­dent, Mark Sper­ling, with a paint­ing of trees. “The trees are stand­ing side by side. It’s a covenant gift to remember this night.

“Our world is be­ing filled with such neg­a­tive rhetoric that’s sweep­ing the land. … We as peo­ple of faith are called to stand up. We should be able to feel safe in our houses of wor­ship.”

Giglio closed the ser­vice, thank­ing the au­di­ence.

“Last week my heart was full of pain. But you are help­ing to re­pair it. Thank you.”


Var­i­ous mem­bers of the com­mu­nity sing to­gether Fri­day at an in­ter­faith Shab­bat/vigil at Tem­ple Is­rael in Gary in honor of the vic­tims of the Pitts­burgh mas­sacre.

Fri­day’s vigil drew about 150 peo­ple to Tem­ple Is­rael, a sy­n­a­gogue that first opened in down­town Gary in 1910.

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