The Star Democrat – Temple B’nai Israel vigil unites community


Nov 1, 2018

Members of the clergy from assorted faiths join together in lighting the memorial candles during the Temple B’nai vigil Thursday, Nov. 1. Photo by Jack Rodgers

EASTON — More than 500 people attended the Temple B’nai Israel vigil Thursday, Nov. 1, which honored victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Jewish congregation in Pittsburgh. The vigil also honored the Jeffersontown two, victims in another shooting earlier this week.

The standing-room-only crowd came together in song and in support of one another during the vigil, as an assortment of clergy also gave blessings and offered prayers throughout the service.

Clergymen and women from a multitude of faiths attended the vigil, including representatives from the Muslim, Christian and African American communities. 

Rabbi Peter Hyman led the group throughout the night, extending prayers to the victims’ families, along with the families of first responders and others wounded in the attack.

May we, as a community, model unity in the midst of our remarkable diversity,” Hyman said. “May we model and embrace inclusion, compassion and love. … These senseless acts of violence, hatred and bigotry are yet another reminder of how much work still lies ahead of us.”

Hyman said a new day is dawning in the efforts of peace and compassion throughout the nation, evidenced by the outpouring of support he has received not only from the local community, but from communities around the world.

Hyman said many members of congregations of varying faiths had outstretched their arms to the Jewish community in Eason since the Pittsburgh attack.

I’ve received calls from Germany, England and Saudi Arabia. I’ve received calls from California, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Texas. Most of the flowers … were from people in this community who felt connected,” Hyman said. “That’s what makes us the community we are.”

Hyman quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said he refused to accept the view that man is “I would submit to you that it is a reality. We have work to do, there’s no question, but it is a reality,” Hyman said. “Person after person, child after child, the cards and the letters are out there.”

Hyman said it was important to take note of the togetherness of the community in moments of tragedy because undoubtably, there will be more moments of mourning in the future.

Truth of the matter is, unfortunately, the template to this service is in my computer. I didn’t have to create it; we’ve been doing this far too long,” Hyman said. “What the truth of the matter is, the phone calls, the flowers, the visits, the cards, point to the possibility and the reality of a new day.”

After Psalms were sung and prayers given for victims, 13 candles were lit for the 11 victims of the Tree of Life congregation, along with two for the victims of the Jeffersontown shooting.

Hyman said he was greatly appreciative of the support from all faiths and from all community members. He blessed the group for attending the vigil.

Your presence here makes a statement that transcends the horrific, that transcends the insanity, that brings us together,” Hyman said. “For those whose perception of the world is such that it doesn’t see the unity in our diversity — it’s time for the world to grow up.”