A show of sup­port

Vigil mourns vic­tims of syn­a­gogue shoot­ing

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered in front of the Univer­sity of Delaware’s Me­mo­rial Hall on Sun­day to mourn the vic­tims of Satur­day’s syn­a­gogue shoot­ing in Pitts­burgh and show sup­port for the lo­cal Jewish com­mu­nity.

“For our grief, this is an op­por­tu­nity to mourn. For our out­rage, it’s a time to cry out. For our fear, an op­por­tu­nity to pray and to in­vite courage, and for our vul­ner­a­bil­ity, it’s a time to stand with oth­ers and to dis­cover that we are not re­ally alone,” said Rabbi Ja­cob Lieber­man, of Tem­ple Beth El.

Sun­day’s vigil was or­ga­nized by Hil­lel at the Univer­sity of Delaware, Tem­ple Beth El, Con­gre­ga­tion Beth Emeth, Con­gre­ga­tion Beth Shalom, The Siegel Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­ter and Jewish Fed­er­a­tion of Delaware. It drew com­mu­nity mem­bers of all faiths, as well as UD stu­dents and elected of­fi­cials.

The vigil came one day af­ter a mass shoot­ing at the Tree of Life Syn­a­gogue in the close-knit Jewish com­mu­nity of Squir­rel Hill in Pitts­burgh.

The gun­man, Robert Gregory Bow­ers, opened fire with an AR-15 ri­fle and other weapons dur­ing wor­ship ser­vices at the syn­a­gogue, killing eight men and three women be­fore a tac­ti­cal po­lice team tracked him down and shot him, ac­cord­ing to state and fed­eral af­fi­davits made pub­lic on Sun­day. He ex­pressed ha­tred of Jews dur­ing the ram­page and later told po­lice that “all these Jews need to die,” author­i­ties said.

In ad­di­tion to the fa­tal­i­ties, six peo­ple were in­jured in the at­tack, in­clud­ing four po­lice of­fi­cers.

“This was the worst at­tack on the Jewish com­mu­nity in the his­tory of the United States of Amer­ica,” Lieber­man said. “I’ll pause a mo­ment to let you take that in. The worst at­tack in our en­tire his­tory.”

He said now is a time for the com­mu­nity to stay united.

“We are speak­ing out against anti-Semitism and against vi­o­lence, which a cul­ture of hate em­bold­ens, when it might oth­er­wise seem safer to be silent,” he said. “To­gether, we say never again.”

Rabbi Nick Ren­ner, of UD’s Hil­lel, said the coun­try needs to have two con­ver­sa­tions: how to con­front ha­tred and how to care for oth­ers.

“Let those con­ver­sa­tions be lights that il­lu­mi­nate our way for­ward in the midst of the tragedy and the dark­ness, for if those con­ver­sa­tions can come alive and lead to ac­tion, they can lead to deeds of good­ness and heal­ing, it can lead to right­eous­ness and jus­tice, it can lead to to­geth­er­ness and re­siliency,” Ren­ner said. “Then, surely, those two con­ver­sa­tions can lead to bless­ing in our own world.”

John Elzu­fon, chair of the Jewish Fed­er­a­tion of Delaware’s Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, quoted Holo­caust sur­vivor Elie Wiesel, say­ing that the op­po­site of love is not hate but, rather, in­dif­fer­ence.

“As much as your pres­ence here is ap­pre­ci­ated, do not be­lieve that be­ing here is enough,” Elzu­fon said. “You must do more.”

Robin Burstein, se­nior as­so­ciate re­gional di­rec­tor of the Anti-Defama­tion League’s Philadel­phia of­fice, said her or­ga­ni­za­tion tracked a 57 per­cent in­crease in anti-Semitic in­ci­dents na­tion­wide last year, in­clud­ing 13 here in Delaware. She called on the com­mu­nity to come to­gether to com­bat in­tol­er­ance.

“The shooter’s goal was to ter­ror­ize Amer­i­can Jews and any­one who be­lieves in an in­clu­sive so­ci­ety. This was his in­tent,” Burstein said. “But with all of us stand­ing to­gether as we are to­day, he will fail mis­er­ably.”


Rabbi Ja­cob Lieber­man, of Tem­ple Beth El, speaks in front of Me­mo­rial Hall on Sun­day dur­ing a vigil for those killed in the mass shoot­ing at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue.


Hun­dreds gather in front the Univer­sity of Delaware’s Me­mo­rial Hall on Sun­day to mourn the vic­tims of Satur­day’s syn­a­gogue shoot­ing in Pitts­burgh.

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