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Community Vigil In Response to Pittsburgh Tragedy

The Rochester community turned out by the thousands on Sunday, October 28, 2018 for a interfaith vigil held at TBK in response to the Pittsburgh tragedy.  Faith leaders and elected represenatives joined together with about 3,000 community members to support each other and the people of Pittsburgh.  







Participants in the program included:

Rabbi Peter Stein, Temple B'rith Kodesh
Rabbi Rochelle Tulik, Temple B'rith Kodesh
Cantorial Soloist Keri Lopatin Berger, Temple B'rith Kodesh
Cantor Renata Braun, Temple Sinai
Rabbi Alan Katz, Temple Sinai
Rabbi Michael Silbert, Temple Beth David
Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
Sister Susan Nowak, Sisters of Saint Joseph
Samiha Islam, Islamic Center of Rochester
Rabbi Avi Kilmnick, Congregation Beth Sholom
Rabbi Leonardo Birtran, Temple Beth El
Rabbi Drorah Setel, Temple Emanuel
Rabbi Shaya Kilmnick, Congregation Beth Sholom
Rabbi Debbi Till, Temple Sinai
Meredith Dragon, CEO Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
Hazzan Randall Levin, Temple Beth El

There were 50+ other clergy leaders there to lend their support.

Below are the remarks from Temple B'rith Kodesh Senior Rabbi Peter W. Stein:

October 28, 2018/19 Cheshvan 5779
Community Vigil in Response to the tragedy in Pittsburgh

It is an honor to welcome you to this evening’s vigil.  Thank you all for coming.

I welcome you as the senior rabbi of Temple B’rith Kodesh, and also as a member of the Rochester faith community.  The extraordinary bonds among our city’s religious communities have been strong for many years, but have been especially beautiful to behold in the last 24 hours, as so many faith leaders are here tonight and so many have reached out with love to support our Jewish community.

I also welcome you tonight as a former Pittsburgher and a former member of the Tree of Life community, where my wife served as their Director of Education.  All of us tonight stand in the affirming shadow of the Tree of Life and in the devastating shadow of violence and loss.  I pray that this assembly will create a sense of hope and a vision of peace.

Each time the Jewish community gathers to worship and read the assigned portion from the Five Books of Moses, we recite the prayer taken from the book of Proverbs: Etz Chayim Hi Lamachazikim Ba, vetomecheha meushar…It is a Tree of Life for those who hold fast to it, and all its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.

Today, we come together, joined by our grief but also holding fast to the belief that there is a path to peace and there is a path to a life that is filled with hope.  Together, we will hold fast to one another and set down that path, as we show solidarity with the people of Pittsburgh and closeness across our own city.

During tonight’s vigil, we will hear words and music offered by a number of Jewish leaders and by members of other religious communities.  They are only a representative few of the incredible number of Rochesterians who have reached out to the Jewish community from the Mormon, Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist, BaHai, Quaker, Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and other faith communities, as well as from any number of places in the civic and public sphere.  It is abundantly clear to me that our city is strong and close, and we are all united as branches on the Tree of Life.

Rabbi Naomi Levy composed the following words as she learned of the tragic violence in the Pittsburgh synagogue.


A Prayer for the Dead of Tree of Life Congregation by Rabbi Naomi Levy

We are devastated, God,
Our hearts are breaking
In this time of shock and mourning.
The loss is overwhelming.
Send comfort and strength, God,
To grieving family members.
Send healing to the injured,
Send strength and wisdom 
to their doctors and nurses.
Bless the courageous police officers who risked their lives
To protect innocent lives.

Shield us from despair, God,
Ease our pain.
Let our fears give way to hope.
Lead us to join together as a nation
To put an end to anti-Semitism,
An end to hatred,
An end to gun violence.

Teach us, God, to honor the souls we have lost
By raising our hands 
and voices together
In the cause of peace.
Because Torah is a Tree of Life
And all its paths are peaceful.

Work through us, God.
Turn our helplessness into action.
Teach us to believe that we can 
rise up from this tragedy
And banish the hate 
that is tearing our world apart.
We must never be indifferent 
to the plight of any who suffer.
We must learn to care,
To open our hearts 
and open our hands.
Innocent blood is calling out to us.


Wed, August 12 2020 22 Av 5780