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SU shows support for the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Congregation

BY HANNAH HYAT AND GILLAN VANDITTA

News Editor/Staff Writer

Salisbury University offered the opportunity for students, staff and faculty to pay their respects to the victims involved in the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre on Nov. 4.

The Hillel Club partnered with SU to create a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the 11 innocent lives which were taken on Oct. 27.

President of the Hillel Club Rebecca Flax directed the affair with a sympathetic and strong goal in mind.

“We wanted to stand up and say we aren’t going to take this anymore. We wanted to show solidarity and support,” Flax said.

President Charles Wight was in attendance, who found the event to be an important learning experience as well as an honorable gesture to remember the innocent lives lost due to hate.

“I’m grateful to the students of Hillel and to Dr. Maarten Pereboom, dean of our Fulton School of Liberal Arts, for organizing the vigil on Sunday evening,” Wight said. “It is important for all of us to remember the victims of this attack and to come together in peace to prevent anything like this from happening again.”

46-year-old Robert Bowers walked into the Pittsburgh synagogue armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns on the morning of Oct. 27.

The killer shouted anti-Semitic slurs as he opened fire inside the religious building during the morning Sabbath service.

Bowers took the lives of 11 innocent service-goers in the deadliest rampage against the Jewish community in the United States.

CNN confirmed the fallen victims included brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, Irving Younger, Melvin Wax, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried and Bernice and Sylvan Simon.

The New York Times wrote, “According to the police, Mr. Bowers exchanged gunfire with officers before retreating back inside and barricading himself inside a third-floor room. He eventually surrendered.”

Before being released and sent to court, the perpetrator was taken to Alleghany General Hospital to receive treatment on his wounds.

According to the NYT, Bowers has been charged with 29 criminal counts and may face the death penalty. Federal officials charged Bowers with obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs, a hate crime and using a firearm to commit murder.

The Times also published that Bower faces state charges, including 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.

Bower appeared in court to demand a trial by jury on Nov. 1. According to the New York Post, the murderer was smiling as he left the court in shackles.

The Tree of Life shooting is defined as the deadliest anti-Semitic crime to be committed on U.S. soil in history.

The Hillel Club and the university staff worked together on a vigil worthy of memorializing the victims.

The partnering organizations worked together to assemble sound systems, electric candles, speeches and a meeting place in Red Square to host the vigil.

Many of those who were in attendance are Jewish students of Salisbury University.

Sophomore Jordana Oman has been attending synagogue services for as long as she can remember. The fact that the shooting took place in a setting which is sacred and routine to her family came as a major shock.

“I have been attending services just like that since I was born,” Oman said. “The fact this happened isn’t just shocking — but it makes me feel unsafe.”

Hillel Club member Sophie Lipman found the stories of those who survived the shooting to be stimulating.

“I read a piece about the Holocaust survivor who almost died in the shooting tonight. It meant a lot to me to share his story since my grandfather also is a Holocaust survivor,” Lipman said.

The university also allowed students, staff and faculty to learn more about hate crimes in a discussion following the day after the vigil.

The community was welcomed to come show its support of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Congregation in an Anti-Semitism: Past and Present discussion panel held tonight, Nov. 5.

Photo featured by Gillan VanDitta

 

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