Hanks, Keaton address memorial crowd
Pittsburgh event honors synagogue spree victims
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.”
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.