Interfaith Vigil for Victims of Tree of Life Synagogue

On October 29th, close to two thousand people, from all faiths and non-believers, came together to honor and mourn the lives that were lost at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh at the hands of a hate-filled gunman. Those of us who were in the main sanctuary watched in wonder at the ever growing crowd—unaware of all of those in overflow rooms and out on the streets surrounding Mount Zion Temple who felt compelled to join this community of love. For all of the fear and hate that events of the last week have wrought upon our country, in this sacred space we were reminded of what America looks like and what we stand for—togetherness, peace, hope and a determination to end the hate and violence.

Speakers included several area rabbis, a local cantor who grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, survivors of gun violence, a leader from National Council of Jewish Women, Muslim leaders from Reviving Sisterhood, and several others.  At the end clergy from all faiths were invited to come to the front and join together. Every faith and denomination must have been represented as they just kept coming down the center aisle as they joined forces and we all sang about building this world from love.

Strangers reached out to greet and comfort each other and left feeling united. Those who had never been in a synagogue before stood side by side with those that call Mount Zion home, and embraced in this sacred space. There were reassurances to all the Jewish people that they were not alone, but that message resounded with everyone in attendance.

As Nausheena Hussain stated when addressing the congregation regarding white supremacy and Islamaphobia, "Today we mourn, tomorrow we resist, Tuesday we vote!"