Rabbi Chuck Diamond, the former spiritual leader of the Eitz Chaim synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday led a service of prayers, songs and poetry and reminisced about some of the worshippers killed, as Show Up for Shabbat services honoring the 11 dead and six wounded were held at synagogues across the United States.
Approximately 100 people gathered in a drizzle of rain outside the synagogue to participate in the service.
The service marked one week after the worst attack targeting Jews in U.S. history.
“I almost expected Cecil to greet me this morning,” Diamond said of Cecil Rosenthal, 59, killed along with his brother, David, 54, in the October 27th shooting at Tree of Life in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, according to an AP report.
Diamond called the victims “angels given to us, full of love and life.”
In the past week, people told him of weddings, bar mitzvahs and other ceremonies they’ve held at the synagogue. “This is a place, a building that has stood for joy, but now it is forever stained,” Diamond said. But the shooting “cannot overshadow that this building is and will be into the future a place of joy.”
the AP reported that he said he took great comfort in seeing people of all faiths come together since the shooting and for his prayer vigil on Saturday.
“It’s important to come and take care of your community when something like this happens. I want to be in solidarity,” said Andrew Allison, who attended Saturday’s service.
Meanwhile, the pews were packed at Central Synagogue in New York City, where Jews and non-Jews alike gathered for a special Show Up for Shabbat service.
“It’s such a tragedy that happened in Pittsburgh, and I was touched by the calling of the Jewish community to welcome non-Jews into their synagogues today, so I couldn’t resist and I came,” said Steven Kent, an Episcopalian. “It was a wonderful feeling.”
The suspect, Robert Bowers, 46, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges that could result in a death sentence. He was arraigned on a 44-count indictment charging him with murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion and other crimes.
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