Easthampton vigil honors 11 killed at Pittsburgh synagogue

  • A child places a candle in a circle in remembrance of the people killed Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue, during a vigil Sunday evening in Easthampton STAFF PHOTO/GRETA JOCHEM

Staff Writer
Published: 10/29/2018 12:28:12 AM

EASTHAMPTON — At the corner of Williston Avenue and Cottage Street on Sunday evening, a circle of people stood holding candles in remembrance for the 11 people who were killed Saturday by a gunman at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The anti-Semitic act at Tree of Life Congregation was one of the most deadly against Jewish people in U.S. history. ​​​

Many in the group prayed and spoke about their frustration, anger and sadness in the wake of the horrific shooting.

“I’m speechless we’re here again,” Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle told the group. “We will stand with resolve.”

“It’s a travesty for Jewish people but it’s also a global issue,” said Owen Zaret, City Council member and organizer of the event. Tomorrow, gun violence could target African-Americans or Muslims, he said. “This is an issue affecting our country.”

Sara Weinberger, an organizer of the event, said that just last weekend, her synagogue held a Shabbat to raise awareness for refugees through The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a group that helps resettle immigrants, as part of similar events held all around the country.

Robert Bowers, the alleged shooter at the Pittsburgh synagogue, had targeted the society on social media before and posted a list of the synagogues taking part in the national event, NBC News reported.

Locally, another vigil is planned for Monday evening. The interfaith “Sorrow and Solidarity Vigil” will take place from 6 to 6:45 p.m. on the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence front lawn. All are welcome, and are invited to bring candles if possible.

Sunday’s vigil included a ceremony to remember the 11 who died, in which Weinberger read aloud information about each person. Fifty-nine-year-old Cecil Rosenthal loved to greet people at the synagogue door, Weinberger told the group, and 97-year-old Rose Mallinger knew everyone at the synagogue and was, “just the sweetest,” she said.

For each person, the group honored them and put a yahrzeit candle, a Jewish candle lit for those who have died, in the center of the circle.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.

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