Jews and people of other faiths gathered at the Federal Building at the intersection of Veteran Avenue and Gayley Avenue Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil in solidarity with the Pittsburgh Jewish community after 11 people were killed in a shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Hillel at UCLA organized a walking group from the Hill.
Community leaders including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous, and Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple each spoke for several minutes, while the crowd looked on, holding hundreds of yartzeit memorial candles. Garcetti recited the names of the Pittsburgh victims, and called attention to the shooting of two black men in a grocery store in Kentucky last Wednesday. He said we cannot ignore them or the need for gun control.
There were 500-700 people there, according to a police officer. Parallel gatherings took place in every major Jewish community in the country, including New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
Susan Freudenheim, executive director of Jewish World Watch, said she does not know anyone who attends Tree of Life synagogue, but she wanted to come out to the event to be with the community.
“The people who are here are from a real mix,” Freudenheim said. “It’s not just pro-this or pro-that, it’s a really diverse group of people, I know people from all parts of the community, Orthodox, Reform, Israeli, everyone is here, so that’s good. That’s heartwarming, actually.”
Two additional gatherings are taking place today: a USAC solidarity event on Bruinwalk today at noon, and a “UCLA United” vigil co-sponsored by Students Supporting Israel (SSI), Bruins for Israel (BFI), USAC, Hillel, JAM, JLIC and Chabad at UCLA at 5 p.m. on Bruin Plaza.