Children light candles at prayer gathering in Kelowna Monday in memory of the youngest victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at synagogue in Pittsburgh. — Alistair Waters/Capital News

Victims of shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue remembered in Kelowna

Community urged to stand up and speak out against hatred and violence

Members of the Jewish faith in Kelowna gathered Monday night to remember the 11 people gunned down at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last weekend.

The prayer gathering at the Chabad Okanagan Centre heard moderator Sharon Silver Gitlin say the attack in Pittsburgh was not only an attack on Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue, but an attack on Jews around the world.

“It was an attack on our freedom to worship and live in peace,” she said.

Quoting the rabbi at the Pittsburgh synagogue, Silver Gitlin said “this will not break us. And this will not ruin us.”

She said now is a time for all to show unity, and for Jews to show they are a resilient people.

The killing in Pittsburgh on Saturday is believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community ever in the U.S. It took the lives of both young and old.

On Monday in Kelowna, candles were lit in the memory of those who died, and prayers were offered for the victims and survivors of the shooting. About 80 people attended the gathering.

In his eulogy, Rabbi Shmuly Hecht called for “quiet diplomacy” from everyone in the community to combat violence and hate.

He said it’s important people speak up, amongst their friends, in their community and in everyday life to send the message that violence and hate are not acceptable.

“We cannot remain indifferent,” he said.

Steven Finkleman, president of the Okanagan Jewish Community echoed Hecht’s call, saying whether it is the killing of Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the murder of black Christians in a church in Charleston, South Carolina or the shooting of Canadian Muslims at their place of worship in Montreal, “we must stand up in disgust” at such terrorist acts. “Especially when they are aimed at people in their place of prayer,” he said.

“We must resist the hateful rhetoric such as that which is coming out of (the U.S.).”

Irving Goldenberg, who lives in Kelowna and is a former chief justice of the Saskatchewan Supreme Court, read the Lord’s Prayer at the gathering.

He said when he was growing up, he and other Jewish boys would have to leave the room when the prayer was being recited in school.

“I never thought I would be standing in public reciting it,” he said.

But, he added, he now feels that if more people gathered from time to time and recited the words of the prayer, “maybe we can top this madness.”

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