Week after synagogue attack, service seeks healing
PITTSBURGH — Parents clutched their children, couples leaned on each other, and bystanders wept as about 100 people gathered in a steady drizzle outside the desecrated Tree of Life synagogue for what a former rabbi called a healing service one week after the worst attack targeting Jews in U.S. history. Rabbi Chuck Diamond led a service of prayers, songs and poetry and reminisced about some of the worshipers killed, as Show Up For Shabbat services honoring the 11 dead and six wounded were held at synagogues across the United States.
“I almost expected Cecil to greet me this morning,” Diamond said of Cecil Rosenthal, 59, killed along with his brother, David, 54, in the Oct. 27 shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
Diamond called the victims “angels given to us, full of love and life.” He said he took great comfort in seeing people of all faiths come together since the shooting.
“It’s important to come and take care of your community when something like this happens,” said Andrew Allison, who attended Saturday’s service.
The suspect, Robert Bowers, 46, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges including murder.
Before coming to the service, Steve Irwin and a friend stopped by a Squirrel Hill coffee shop. “When we went to pay, we were told all the coffee was paid for by the Sandy Hook community,” referring to Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Irwin said. “It shows how incumbent it is upon us to pay it forward to the next community this happens, which we hope never happens, but we know it will happen.”
Ramesh Santanam is an Associated Press writer.
David Hogg (center), who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., joins a Vote for Our Lives rally Wednesday in Orlando.