Minneapolis Faith Communities Respond to Pittsburgh Shooting

Ben Stark, Staff Writer

crowd of over 1,500 gathered to attend the Sunday solidarity service at Temple Israel in South Minneapolis with lines that stretched well out the door and around the block. The service was one of many taking place around the country after an armed gunman killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 28th. The act of violence has sent shockwaves throughout the country as debates on gun rights and presidential rhetoric are revisited.

Since the attack, Minneapolis police have increased security and patrols around synagogues. On Sunday there were several police units outside of Temple Israel to prevent copycat attacks. Volunteers of the congregation also checked handbags and coats as guests entered. The service was delayed 15 minutes to accommodate for the overwhelming attendance. The fear and confusion from the heightened security outside melted away as the temple continued to fill beyond capacity.

In total, the standing room only service was attended by many members of the larger interfaith community. A letter from Governor Mark Dayton was read at the beginning expressing his sympathies for the community and gave a vow to protect the freedom of religion. In an act of shared faith, rabbis and pastors from other neighboring congregations joined together and read a psalm of unity. After Senior Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman called for an end to nonsensical violence, the service became more joyful. People celebrated through song the solidarity demonstrated in the temple.

On Monday more vigils were held. Mount Zion Temple hosted thousands of people in the evening and Augsburg held a service during chapel time. At the Augsburg vigil students and staff sang and lit candles to mourn the victims. Members of Augsburg’s Hillel spoke and asked those gathered to speak out against hate.

The shooting is the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. The victims were members of the three congregations that called Tree of Life Synagogue their place of worship. Many of these members were life long worshipers at the temple.  Thousands continue to mourn outside of the synagogue.

The national grieving has led to calls for change, heightened due to the proximity to midterm elections. This attack followed a series of postage bombs mailed to critics of President Donald Trump. Protests in Pittsburg have called out President Trump’s decisive nationalist rhetoric against minority groups as partially responsible for the increase in hate crimes since 2015. The attack has increased debates around gun rights and the sale of assault rifles.

In a statement emailed to students, Augsburg University President Paul Pribbenow called for unity and peace, “At this time in our nation’s history, every single voice is needed to send the unmistakably clear message that we reject violent and discriminatory acts and the hate that fuels them. Words matter; silence only gives license to the bigotry.”

“The Echo” remembers those lost in Pittsburgh:

David Rosenthal

Cecil Rosenthal

Rich Gottfried

Jerry Rabinowitz

Rose Mallinger

Irving Younger

Daniel Stein

Joyce Fienberg

Bernice Simon

Sylvan Simon

Melvin Wax

This article was originally published in the Nov. 2, 2018 issue. 

The Minneapolis community filled Temple Israel to show solidarity after shooting in Pittsburgh. Photo by Ben Stark.