Chabad rabbi hosts vigil for Pitts­burgh shoot­ing vic­tims

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - NEWS - By Emily M. Ol­son

LITCHFIELD — The mass shoot­ing at the Tree of Life syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh hap­pened on Oct. 27, and res­i­dents across the coun­try are still reel­ing from the in­ex­pli­ca­ble event that left 11 peo­ple dead. The shooter, a loner named Robert Bow­ers, was ar­rested and is fac­ing charges.

For Rabbi Joseph Eisen­bach, leader of Chabad Lubav­itch of North­west Con­necti­cut, there are no an­swers that can ease the pain of such a loss. His so­lu­tion: “Cel­e­brate the light.”

The rabbi in­vited res­i­dents to a memo­rial vigil at the Litchfield Fire­house Wed­nes­day night, as well as clergy from area houses of wor­ship. The vigil, he said, was his way of help­ing peo­ple find com­fort, to­gether.

“We’re here to cel­e­brate the light that is in all of us,” Eisen­bach said, ad­dress­ing a group of about 30 peo­ple who at­tended. “Where does the dark­ness go? It’s not real. Light is real ... it fills the dark­ness.”

Chabad mem­bers were con­tacted by a church in Corn­wall, ask­ing what could be done to re­mem­ber the shoot­ing vic­tims, Eisen­bach said.

“So we de­cided to hold a vigil,” Eisen­bach said, ad­dding that since the shoot­ing, strangers have ap­proached him and of­fered their love and sup­port.

“I have been blown away by the sup­port we have re­ceived here in this com­mu­nity since this hap­pened,” he said. “In the gro­cery store, on the street ... It’s just been amaz­ing.”

The Rev. Dea­con Amy Re­ich­man of St. Michael’s Parish in Litchfield, the Rev. Tues­day Rupp from St. Paul’s Epis­co­pal Church in Wood­bury, and Sis­ters Joann Ian­otti and Rose­marie Greco were among the guests who at­tended Wed­nes­day’s vigil. Other min­is­ters came from Litchfield, Nor­folk and other sur­round­ing towns.

“I wanted to show my sup­port and be part this,” Re­ich­man said.

For the vigil, the Chabad set up a long ta­ble dec­o­rated with flow­ers and signs, each bear­ing the names of one or two of the vic­tims: Joyce Fein­berg, 75, Richard Got­tfried, 65, Rose Mallinger, 97, Jerry Rabi­nowitz, 66, broth­ers Ce­cil Rosen­thal, 59, and David Rosen­thal, 54, Ber­nice Si­mon, 84, and Syl­van Si­mon, 86, Daniel Stein, 71, Melvin Wax, 87, and Irv­ing Younger, 69.

Af­ter prayers, Eisen­bach asked guests at the vigil to read a short bi­og­ra­phy of each per­son and then light a can­dle. He also en­cour­aged peo­ple to take a few can­dles with them to light when they re­turned to their homes. The ser­vice ended with a prayer in He­brew.

“We live in the great­est coun­try in the world, but‘why’ and ‘how’ are ques­tions we can­not an­swer,” Eisen­bach said. “Sadly, we’re lim­ited — it’s im­pos­si­ble to un­der­stand how this could hap­pen. It’s a time to re­flect and re­mem­ber.”

“It’s a won­der­ful thing that the rabbi did this,” the Rev. Rupp said, as she greeted peo­ple af­ter the ser­vice. “I think peo­ple wanted to have some­thing to go to, so it was a good idea. I’m happy I was able to be here.”

Con­gre­ga­tion B’nai Is­rael in South­bury hosted vig­ils im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the Oct. 27 shoot­ing, and they were well-at­tended by res­i­dents from sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties, Rupp said.

As the ser­vice ended, the rabbi en­cour­aged peo­ple to do a mitz­vah, or a good deed, to con­nect with oth­ers.

He also talked about Noah, who took his fam­ily, built an ark and left civ­i­liza­tion be­hind as the flood wa­ters rose, and com­pared him to Abra­ham, who went out into the world and con­nected with oth­ers.

“Let’s not live in this world like Noah,” he said. “Let’s live like Abra­ham, mak­ing a con­nec­tion.”

A memo­rial vigil to honor the vic­tims of the Tree of Life syn­a­gogue shoot­ing in Pitts­burgh was held Wed­nes­day at the Litchfield Fire­house.

Emily M. Ol­son / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Guests gather af­ter a memo­rial vigil hon­or­ing the vic­tims of the Tree of Life syn­a­gogue shoot­ing in Pitts­burgh, held Wed­nes­day, at the Litchfield Fire­house.

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