Worshipers gather outside site of slayings, nearby synagogue for Sabbath services

Photo: www.tolols.org

Nov. 4 (UPI) — One week after a gunman entered a synagogue and killed 11 people during Sabbath services, mourners prayed outside the building and at a nearby place of worship.

Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, begins Friday at sundown and ends Saturday evening.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday, a week to the minute after the first call to 911, more than 100 people gathered outside the synagogue for a moment of silence. Former Tree of Life Rabbi Chuck Diamond led a service.

Down the street at Beth Shalom synagogue, a large turnout of worshipers equivalent to a wedding or holiday prayed.

Near the Tree of Life building, police vehicles and yellow tape blocked a street, where a mobile command truck is still parked. Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert directed traffic and helped pedestrians.

Around a row of 11 markers, each bearing the name of one of the victims, were flowers, stones, candles, cards, photographs and other mementos.

“As tough as it is, we will move forward,” Diamond said in a report by Triblive.com. “This is a place, a building for so many people that stood for joy. Now, it is stained.”

Weddings, bar mitzvahs, bris and other special ceremonies have taken place in the building.

“For a moment, we remember the tragedy,” Diamond said during the 45-minute service. “But we have to remember it was and will be a place for joy. We have to break the glass.”

Breaking a glass at a wedding ceremony is meant to remember the pain, loss and tragedies of the Jewish people while celebrating a happy occasion, Diamond said.

Congregation Beth Shalom invited members of the Tree of Life, New Light and Dor Hadash, who have been displaced from the building, to celebrate Shabbat services together Saturday.

“It does feel incredibly important to be here, to show our solidarity and pride in our Jewish identity,” Lori Hausman, a 44-year-old clinical psychologist who was heading to services with her young daughter, said to the New York Post.

Members of the congregations were seated near the front and helped to lead the services.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, of Tree of Life Congregation, highlighted the examples of goodness, kindness and respect in Saturday’s readings. He witnessed the terror and the destruction.

Myers has been inside Tree of Life three times since the shooting, and accompanied President Donald Trump on a visit to the building.

“You don’t want to go in there,” said Meyers about the building, which included a sanctuary that seats 1,200.

Suspect Robert Bowers, who has pleaded not guilty, screamed “all Jews must die” as he opened fire on the congregation.

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper paid tribute to the dead, running the opening lines of the traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer on its front page in Hebrew.

“These are the first words of the Jewish mourners’ prayer, ‘Magnified and sanctified be Your name,’ to be recited tonight on the first Sabbath since the tragedy at Tree of Life,” the front page reads.

On Friday night, a public service at Rodef Shalom drew about 1,200 people of various faiths.

Members of the Tree of Life synagogue gathered in a private area at the synagogue in Shadyside.


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