ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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'This leaves an indelible mark'

Thousands in Pittsburgh gather for vigil after synagogue massacre

Mourners sing Jewish songs, chant ‘vote vote’ at interfaith gathering in close-knit Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where 11 were killed during Shabbat services

  • People gather for a interfaith candlelight vigil a few blocks away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.    (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)
    People gather for a interfaith candlelight vigil a few blocks away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)
  • People gather for a interfaith candlelight vigil a few blocks away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.    (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)
    People gather for a interfaith candlelight vigil a few blocks away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)
  • People hug as members of the Squirrel Hill community come together for a candle vigil in remembrance of those who died earlier in the day during a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (Dustin Franz / AFP)
    People hug as members of the Squirrel Hill community come together for a candle vigil in remembrance of those who died earlier in the day during a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (Dustin Franz / AFP)
  • Members of the Squirrel Hill community come together for a student-organized candle vigil in rememberance of those who died earlier in the day during a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (Dustin Franz / AFP)
    Members of the Squirrel Hill community come together for a student-organized candle vigil in rememberance of those who died earlier in the day during a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (Dustin Franz / AFP)
  • Members of the Squirrel Hill community come together for a student-organized candle vigil in rememberance of those who died earlier in the day during a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (Dustin Franz / AFP)
    Members of the Squirrel Hill community come together for a student-organized candle vigil in rememberance of those who died earlier in the day during a shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. (Dustin Franz / AFP)
  • People gather for a interfaith candlelight vigil a few blocks away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)
    People gather for a interfaith candlelight vigil a few blocks away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

Thousands of people jammed an intersection amid a light rain for a vigil Saturday evening for the victims of a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue earlier in the day.

The gathering included prayers and singing in memory of those killed and wounded during Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life synagogue.

A “vote, vote, vote” chant broke out during the emotional gathering where some derided the nation’s political climate.

Several attendees blamed the shooting on the nation’s political climate and said they took little solace in a planned visit by President Donald Trump.

The shooter, named as Robert Bowers, had spread anti-Semitic hate online. He killed 11 people and injured another 6 at the Squirrel Hill synagogue, yelling “all Jews must die.”

He was wounded in a shootout with police and surrendered.

A crowd of media wait in the street two blocks from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a shooter killed 11 people on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

Authorities said names of the victims would be released Sunday morning. According to CNN, no children were among the dead.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf attended the vigil, suspending a campaign bus trip after learning of the attack.

Trump condemned the attack as “an assault on humanity,” and calling on Americans to “unite to conquer hate.”

In a pair of tweets, Trump said, “All of America is in mourning over the mass murder of Jewish Americans at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We pray for those who perished and their loved ones, and our hearts go out to the brave police officers who sustained serious injuries.”

“This evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity. It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate.”

From left: Cody Murphy, 17, Sabrina Weihrauch, and Amanda Godley, all of Pittsburgh, hug after an active shooter situation at Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Andrew Stein/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

State Rep. Dan Frankel, who represents the district that includes the synagogue, was speaking at a house party about a block away when the shooting occurred. The Democrat said other attendees heard the gunfire.

“We’ll be dealing with this for months and years,” Frankel said. “It leaves an indelible mark.”

Frankel called the area the heart of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, estimating about 20 synagogues are located with a couple miles of the vigil site.

A study last from Brandeis University found that more than 80 percent of neighborhood residents said they were concerned about rising anti-Semitism.

The scene of a mass hooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

The synagogue is located in the tree-lined residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and the hub of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community.

The facade of the fortress-like concrete building is punctuated by rows of swirling, modernistic stained-glass windows illustrating the story of creation, the acceptance of God’s law, the “life cycle” and “how human-beings should care for the earth and one another,” according to its website. Among its treasures is a “Holocaust Torah,” rescued from Czechoslovakia.

Its sanctuary can hold up to 1,250 people.

Eisenberg, the former synagogue president, said officials at Tree of Life had not gotten any threats that he knew of before the shooting. But he said security was a concern, and the synagogue had started working to improve it.

Tammy Hepps, Kate Rothstein and her daughter, Simone Rothstein, 16, pray from a prayerbook a block away from the site of a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

Chuck Diamond, a former rabbi at the synagogue who retired more than a year ago, said the building is locked during the week, and is outfitted with security cameras. “But on Sabbath it’s an open door,” he said.

“You know, you’re always worried that something would happen,” said Myron Snider, head of the cemetery committee for New Light Congregation, which meets at Tree of Life. Snider just got out of the hospital on Thursday and missed Saturday’s service.

“But you never dream that it would happen like this,” Snider added. “Just never ever dream that it would happen like this.”

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