Hanks, Keaton ad­dress memo­rial crowd

Pitts­burgh event honors syn­a­gogue spree vic­tims

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Ramesh Santanam The As­so­ci­ated Press

PITTS­BURGH — Nearly two weeks af­ter a gun­man shot to death 11 peo­ple in­side a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue, their lives were re­mem­bered Fri­day with a mo­ment of si­lence and a rally for peace in a down­town park.

Rab­bis from all three con­gre­ga­tions whose mem­bers were meet­ing in the Tree of Life syn­a­gogue build­ing at the time of the Oct. 27 shoot­ing were among a few hun­dred peo­ple who at­tended the event at Point State Park.

“I want to thank Pitts­burgh’s finest,” said Tree of Life Rabbi Jef­frey My­ers, flanked by first re­spon­ders.

“If it wasn’t for Pitts­burgh’s finest, I wouldn’t be stand­ing here ad­dress­ing you to­day.”

My­ers, who pledged Fri­day never again to ut­ter the word “hate,” sur­vived what was the dead­li­est at­tack on Jews in U.S. his­tory, then han­dled fu­ner­als for his con­gre­gants.

Ac­tor Michael Keaton, wear­ing a Pitts­burgh Pi­rates ball cap, em­ceed the event, which was de­scribed as “a gath­er­ing of com­pas­sion, unity and love.” Keaton grew up in the area.

Robert Bow­ers, a 46-year-old truck driver, is ac­cused of the shoot­ing ram­page that also in­jured six. He had pleaded not guilty to fed­eral charges.

Au­thor­i­ties said he raged about Jews dur­ing and af­ter the at­tack.

Pitts­burgh Mayor Bill Pe­duto re­minded the crowd that the rally was tak­ing place on the 80th an­niver­sary of Kristall­nacht, “The Night of Bro­ken Glass,” when Nazis ter­ror­ized thou­sands upon thou­sands of Jews through­out Ger­many and Aus­tria.

Os­car-win­ning ac­tor Tom Hanks took the stage with Joanne Rogers, widow of Fred Rogers, host of the PBS chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion se­ries, “Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood.”

“A vis­i­tor will know how great a city this is be­cause Pitts­burgh has been tested,” said Hanks, who plays Fred Rogers in an up­com­ing film.

He said the city has shown the rest of the na­tion and the world “what good comes when the peo­ple of the Al­legheny and the Monon­ga­hela love their neigh­bors with no ex­cep­tion.”

Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Tom Wolf called the shoot­ing “an at­tack on hu­man­ity.”

“We have a lot of work to do to com­bat hate, whether it’s on the In­ter­net or in the shad­ows,” Wolf told the crowd. “Our di­ver­sity is our strength. Spread love, be kind, take care of each other.”

Alexan­dra Wimley

The As­so­ci­ated Press At­ten­dees stand dur­ing a mo­ment of si­lence Fri­day at the rally for peace and Tree of Life vic­tims at Point State Park in Pitts­burgh.

Ac­tor Tom Hanks em­braces Joanne Rogers, widow of the late Fred Rogers, as they sing the theme song of “Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood” along­side a choir Fri­day at the rally for peace.

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