Interfaith Vigil Stands in Solidarity


Courtesy of Andrew McKeough

Alison Nieto

On Tuesday Oct. 30, students from different faiths and backgrounds came together at the Oreo to celebrate the life and mourn the tragedy of the Tree of Life synagogue after a horrific act of violence took place there on Saturday morning, Oct. 27. 

Faculty and staff spoke to the grieving mass, offering words of wisdom and inspiration to a student body wracked by the prevalence of shootings in our nation. 

11 worshipers fell victim to a lone gunman, who stormed the building Saturday morning. This is the most recent of mass shootings in the United States. The victims included a family physician, dentist, teacher and Holocaust survivor Rose Mallinger, age 97.

These victims were an integral part of their community, with brothers David and Cecil Rosenthal, both of whom were in their 50s, serving as the unofficial greeters of the synagogue. Others, like Daniel Stein, 71, had just become grandparents, whilst others, like Melvin Wax, 81, could do it all from leading services to changing lightbulbs, according to the New York Times. 

The lives lost that Saturday morning are mourned across the nation, not only by the Jewish community, but by people of all different faiths and backgrounds. Today, the community offered their prayers and respects to the victims. 

One of the speakers, a master’s student from Pittsburgh, spoke about how the temples and synagogues are a secure place. They are a place in which citizens are allowed to practice their first amendment right to freedom of religion. He spoke on how the places which were supposed to be safe and open to all  now need to consider to arm and safeguard them from violence. 

Additionally, an Augustinian spoke about intersectional strength and supporting one another, especially our Jewish brothers and sisters during these trying times. 

One of the featured speakers spoke about the African-Americans who were shot and killed closed the ceremony in a song. “I will be your standing stone,” she says. “I will stand with you.” 

She encouraged the students to shuffle together in front of the Oreo and offer each other a supporting hand as we all sang the lyrics back with her. It was a beautiful ceremony that brought together students of different races, ethnicities and religion, even if only for one hour. 

After the vigil concluded, attendees were invited to sign a leaf in solidarity with the victims and nationwide Jewish community. 

The vigil was emotional and encouraged support. Students offered each other words of support and parted ways, off to their next class.