Candlelight vigil mourns Pittsburgh victims

Photograph by Arran Hashim

By Amelia Eichel

Over 100 members of the Lewis & Clark community attended a candlelight vigil on Oct. 29 to mourn the loss of 11 victims who were murdered in the Pittsburgh shooting on Oct. 27.

Irving Younger, Melvin Wax, Rose Mallinger, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Jerry Rabinowitz, Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Daniel Stein and Cecil and David Rosenthal were shot and killed in an anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue during Shabbat Services. Six others were injured in the shooting.

The vigil was organized by the Office of Spiritual Life and PDX Hillel, a Jewish organization  on campus. The Dean of Spiritual Life, Mark Duntley, led the vigil.

“This is a solemn occasion, but it’s also an opportunity for us to unite together with people who are far away but may be very close in our thoughts and in our hearts,” Duntley said.

LC President Wim Wiewel attended the vigil with his wife and shared his reflections on the tragedy.

“As I thought about it over the weekend and I was contemplating what kind of a response I should make as president, as symbolic leader of the community, it was difficult because there have been so many things going on that have been so horrible,” Wiewel said.

He referenced the children dying of hunger in Yemen, the bombs sent to prominent American leaders over the past week and the failed attempt of a shooter to enter an African American community church in Kentucky on Oct. 24 which led him to murder two African American people in a supermarket.

“We have to accept that part of life does involve an incredible amount of suffering and pain,” Wiewel said. “We all experience this ourselves personally, in our family, or in the groups that we identify with. But it should always be a call to action, a call to reach out to those that we love and care about, a call to investment in our community, and a call to acting as citizens … We have the opportunity a week from tomorrow (Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6) to express who we are and what we want for our world.”

PDX Hillel staff Hannah Sherman, Elyssa Hurwitz and Hagit Ojalvo, along with eight members of Hillel student leadership, proceeded to light 13 candles in honor of the 11 Pittsburgh victims and two candles to honor all other victims of violence over the past week.

“As Jewish students on campus, we could not stand aside and silently mourn the loss of those who died during Shabbat Services,” Student Co-Presidents of Lewis & Clark Hillel Rachel Applebaum ’19 and Elizabeth Goldsmith ’19 said via email. “When given the opportunity and the help and support of the Office of Spiritual Life, along with PDX Hillel staff, to support those of our community, we wanted to show our peers that we are a strong Jewish community on campus.”

Jewish students led a recitation of the customary Jewish prayer for mourning, the Mourner’s Kaddish, and participants observed 11 minutes of silence together in a circle, as their candles shone in the dimly lit chapel.

“Hillel is so appreciative to Mark Duntley for helping put together such a beautiful vigil,” PDX Hillel Director Hannah Sherman said. “We also want to thank university President, Wim Wiewel, for sharing beautiful words. It is customary in Jewish tradition, after someone dies, to say zichrono livracha, may their memories be for a blessing. I was so moved to see such an overwhelming outpour of support from the entire LC community. It gave me hope in a time of such sadness to see such support for the Jewish people.”

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