Hundreds of people turned out to honor the victims of Saturday’s synagogue shooting in a candlelight vigil outside the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill this weekend.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, students from Taylor Allderdice High School organized the vigil and began the gathering with an interfaith “prayer for healing.” Members of the community also sang hymns in both Hebrew and English in tribute to the 11 people who lost their lives in the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue earlier that day.
The vigil began indoors at the Sixth Presbyterian Church, with dozens filling the pews and standing alongside the walls. As the church filled to capacity, many more stood and prayed in the streets to express grief for the victims of and support the local community. “Squirrel Hill is a diverse community that embraces tolerance with a passion,” State Rep. Dan Frankel told USA Today of the large show of support.
The evening of interfaith song and prayer eventually took a political turn. Late in the vigil, the crowd began to chant: “Vote! Vote! Vote!” The call to action was captured in video on social media, as seen below.
The chant was speculated to be a reflection of the crowd’s attitude toward President Donald Trump and his administration, who many have accused of spreading hateful rhetoric and encouraging discrimination against immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized communities. In his response to the attack, Trump spoke out against the violence while also praising the police officers on the scene and suggesting that places of worship should consider instituting armed security in the future.
“If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better,” he said, per The Hill. “This is a dispute that will always exist, I think, but if they had some protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation.”
The Squirrel Hill vigil marked the first of a series of interfaith services held across the country over the weekend to pay respect to the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Hundreds more gathered at similar ceremonies in over two dozen cities, including Boston, Denver, Houston, Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles, and more.
Cover image via Jeff Swensen/Getty Images.