Vic­tims of syn­a­gogue shooting re­mem­bered in Pitts­burgh park

Ledger-Enquirer - - Living - BY RAMESH SANTANAM

‘‘ OUR DI­VER­SITY IS OUR STRENGTH. SPREAD LOVE, BE KIND, TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER. Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Tom Wolf

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 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 that was de­scribed as “a gather­ing of com­pas­sion, unity and love.” Keaton grew up in the area.

“This one re­ally hurts. When it hap­pens at a place of wor­ship, that pain runs re­ally, re­ally deep,” Keaton said, call­ing Pitts­burgh “a tough, tough city.”

Robert Bow­ers, a 46year-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, Nazi Ger­many’s sys­tem­atic as­sault on Jews and their in­sti­tu­tions.

The mayor also re­mem­bered the vic­tims of re­cent shoot­ings at a su­per­mar­ket in Louisville, Ken­tucky, a yoga stu­dio in Tallahassee, Florida, and a bar on Wed­nes­day in Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia.

The shooting was “our mo­ment of bro­ken glass,” said the Rev. Liddy Bar­low, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Chris­tian As­so­ci­ates of South­west Penn­syl­va­nia: “But this time, neigh­bors did not stand aside. First re­spon­ders did not stand aside. Chris­tians did not and will not stand aside.”

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.”

Tom Mur­rin said he drove down to the rally from the town of Mars, in neigh­bor­ing But­ler County, to stand in sol­i­dar­ity with the Jew­ish com­mu­nity.

“I think there is some­thing to be pulled out of a tragedy. Stand­ing against (ha­tred) is good to see,” he said. “I don’t think you ever re­cover from some­thing like this, but maybe we can lead in that way, in try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.”

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.”

“I know how tight knit this com­mu­nity is,” said U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, as he was leav­ing the rally. “We showed the na­tion ex­actly who we are. We are go­ing to show the coun­try a model on how to re­cover.”

ALEXAN­DRA WIM­LEY AP

Rabbi Jonathan Perl­man, from left, Rabbi Ch­eryl Klein and Rabbi Jef­frey My­ers, along with other clergy, in­clud­ing the Rev. David Carver, take the stage to ad­dress the crowd dur­ing the Rally for Peace and Tree of Life Vic­tims on Fri­day in down­town Pitts­burgh.

ALEXAN­DRA WIM­LEY AP

Ac­tor Tom Hanks em­braces Joanne Rogers, the late wife of Fred Rogers, as they sing the theme song of “Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood” along­side a choir at the Rally for Peace and Tree of Life Vic­tims on Fri­day in down­town Pitts­burgh.

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