Evie Fordham, DCNF
Attendees of a vigil for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting chanted, “Vote! Vote! Vote!” during a speech by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life congregation Sunday.
More than 4,000 people came together at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall after Robert Bowers allegedly stormed into Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday and shot and killed 11 worshippers, reported CBS Pittsburgh. Roughly 2,500 people were inside the venue for the vigil and 1,500 stood outside in the rain listening to a broadcast of the speeches Sunday, according to CBS Pittsburgh.
The “Vote! Vote! Vote!” chant broke out while Myers gave the closing address of the vigil.
“I began services at 9:45 a.m.,” Myers said according to CBS Pittsburgh. “The shooting started a few minutes after. There were twelve of us in the sanctuary at that time. And as in customary in the Jewish faith, and I’ve also seen it in other faiths, all the early people come and sit in the back. I helped pull out the people that I could from the front, but alas I had eight people in the back. One fortunately survived. Seven of my congregants were shot dead in my sanctuary. My holy place has been defiled. We will rebuild.”
Myers later addressed “political leaders” directly.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it has to start with you as our leaders,” he said, referring to rejecting “words of hate.”
Americans at a vigil tonight to honor the victims of the mass shooting inside a Pittsburgh synagogue chanted one simple word over and over again:
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) October 28, 2018
Chants of “Vote! Vote! Vote!” could be heard throughout the auditorium.
“My words are not intended as political fodder. I address all equally. Stop the words of hate. My mother always taught me, if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing,” Myers continued according to CBS Pittsburgh. “If it comes from you, Americans will listen, but let’s not forget one really important thing. Independent of what happens tonight, independent of what any of our elected officials choose to do from here on, it’s us. We the people.”
Christian and Muslim religious leaders also spoke at the vigil, during which performers sang both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Israel’s national anthem the “Hatikvah,” reported CBS Pittsburgh.
The alleged shooter has been charged with 29 federal counts, which include obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, plus state charges including homicide and ethnic intimidation, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Bowers reportedly cried, “All Jews must die!” during the shooting and had made numerous anti-Semitic social media posts.
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