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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
More than 1,000 people came together to show solidarity with the Jewish community and to decry hate and anti Semitism following Saturday morning's massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

More than 1,000 people came together to show solidarity with the Jewish community and to decry hate and anti Semitism following Saturday morning's massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Community gathers to pray and heal following Pittsburgh attack

The voices that chanted the Mourner’s Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for those who grieve, were heavy with pain Sunday night when nearly 1,000 gathered at the First Unitarian Society for an interfaith service honoring the 11 killed and six wounded in Saturday morning’s attack on The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Jewish community members from across the city led the interfaith assembly in prayer and reflection, mourning those who had been shot and trying to make sense of, as one speaker put it, the “incomprehensible hatred” that drove 46-year-old Robert Brower to massacre the Jews who had gathered to celebrate Shabbat and the birth of a child.

“Every single person has a right to be treated with dignity, kindness and love,” said a Jewish transgender professor from the UW-Madison educational psychology department. “We’ve got to talk, we’ve got to act, we can’t stand still. Madison can only be my home if we can be each others’ homes.”

Representatives from community activism organizations and speakers from many faith groups declared their support for the Jewish community and called for love and active allyship in a time of hatred and anti-Semitism.

“I had to come here tonight because my heart is breaking,” said Everett Mitchell, Dane County circuit judge and pastor at Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church. “We have a shared history and a shared love. We believe in our faith that hate will not have the final say-so. God will have the final say-so.”

Others condemned the shooting as an act of terror, not a hate crime.

“Robert Brower should be called a terrorist, and he should be treated as such in the court of law,” said Muslim activist Masood Akhtar. “White supremacy is becoming the American ISIS. We need to address hate as a community issue.”

Akhtar said education is one of the most powerful ways to inspire productive political action and to achieve his vision of social justice everywhere and for all people.

Earlier in the day, Madison Police Chief Michael Koval extended his thoughts to the Jewish community in Madison and in Pittsburgh, saying he was already in communication with community leaders to address safety concerns they may have.

“We are completely in solidarity with our Jewish community members today in light of the events in Pittsburgh yesterday,” Koval said. “I have been in touch with a number of community leaders. They know that we have increased our presence; our patrol has been heightened, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

A second vigil for the UW community will be held 7 p.m. Monday on Library Mall.

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