Brittany Watson

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018

Arizona community honors 11 lives lost in Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

SCOTTSDALE – Standing against the walls, sitting in the aisles and crowding inside the Goldsmith Sanctuary door to glimpse inside, hundreds of community members packed Congregation Beth Israel on Monday night.

After reaching maximum capacity, staff directed attendees to additional seating in the lobby of the synagogue.

The service began with Rabbi Stephen Kahn welcoming the guests to Service of Hope, Healing and Peace – an opportunity to reflect on Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

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Eleven people, including a Holocaust survivor, were killed when a lone gunmen with multiple firearms entered the synagogue and opened fire. Witnesses said the gunman spouted anti-Semitic statements as he went room to room.

The attack hits close for former Squirrel Hill resident Jeremy Harris, who attended the vigil.

“These things take a personal light as a Jew, but also as a former resident,” Harris said. “I think that communities all over the country, all over the world try to come together for these kinds of things and try to make something positive out of something so deeply negative.”

Many vigil participants were members of other faiths who came to show solidarity with the Jewish community.

Barbara Singer, who attended the gathering, said she was moved by the outpouring of prayers and support.

“What warmed my heart was people from every walk of life and every nationality and every religion were here,” she said.

Hundreds of guests filled the Goldsmith Sanctuary at the Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale to participate in solidarity and prayer for the victims of the Pittsburgh Massacre. (Photo By Brittany Watson/ Cronkite News)

Many groups came together to make this vigil possible, including members of Congregation Beth Israel and Temple Kol Ami in Scottsdale, Temple Solel of Paradise Valley, Temple Chai in Phoenix and Temple Emanuel of Tempe.

Guests look over the service program outlining speakers, prayer, and worship in remembrance of the lives lost during the Pittsburgh massacre. (Photo By Brittany Watson/Cronkite News)

Guests bowed their heads and closed their eyes as Jewish leaders led prayers throughout the night.

Rabbi Mari Chernow took the podium, acknowledging the fear of evil through the teaching of psalms.

“We will not be governed by fear,” Chernow said. “We will not let fear dictate. We will not walk through this valley, this dark-shadowed valley, with fear. We will walk together with goodness, with hope, with healing, with blessing.”

Guests sang along to the traditional songs of remembrance of those who were murdered and for the victims recovering from injuries.

Michelle Phillips, who is originally from England but lives in the Valley, believes positive action is needed to help the Jewish community feel safe again.

“We pray that we learn from this and that some good can come out of it, because something must come out of it.”

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