Temple Beth-El holds memorial service for Pittsburgh victims

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Rabbis Chaim Block and Jeffrey Abraham speak about the Pittsburgh massacre victims while students from this campus light candles in memory Oct. 30 at Temple Bethel-El. The Jewish community and supporters came together to honor those killed and encourage the community to unite against hate. Blanca Granados

Community leaders reach out to the Jewish community.

By Liandre De la Uso


People of all faiths joined together at Temple Beth-El Oct. 30 to sing songs of prayer and hear words of comfort in a memorial service to support the Jewish community in Pittsburgh after an Oct. 27 attack that killed 11 and wounded six.

The temple sponsored the service and welcomed the community to join the congregation for a speech and prayers

Temple Beth-El, 211 Belknap Place, is a close neighbor of this college and shares Parking Lots 1 and 2.

Jewish congregations all over the nation are conducting memorial services for victims of the attack.

“I think for many of us, if not all of us, were just more committed than ever to protect the ideals of our tradition which are to protect the vulnerable,” Head Rabbi Mari Nathan said in an interview. “I think many people are responding to the feeling of solidarity from faith leaders who are reaching out with faith and comfort.”

Attendees sang Jewish hymns inside the main sanctuary before Nathan introduced the first few speakers.

Rabbi Samuel Stahl read a section of the Torah known as the Light of Sarah, which emphasizes the focus on life even in death.

Temple officials estimate about 1,600 people were in attendance, not including those viewing through the live stream remotely.

Among the speakers was Mayor Ron Nirenberg who is of Eastern European Jewish descent.

“The people of San Antonio are grieving for our fellow Americans killed in Pittsburgh,” Nirenberg said. “Anti-Semitism and racism are not new threats to peace, but we must resist. Evil has a face and its name is hate.”

Each of the 11 victims was memorialized with a lighted candle and a brief description of their lives.

“Eleven lives shattered, 11 worlds destroyed,” Stahl said. “Tonight we come together with one heart, to face down hate with love.”

Shots were heard at the Tree of Life synagogue minutes before 10 a.m. Oct. 27.

A lone gunman entered the synagogue and opened fire on attendees at Saturday morning Shabbat.

Robert Bowers, 46, has been arrested and currently has 29 criminal charges against him, according to The New York Times.

“We were filled with shock, horror and dismay,” Nathan said. “It’s very disconcerting to think about a peaceful place of worship being shattered by hate and violence.”

The end of the service was marked by attendees singing “This Land is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, attended the memorial and joined in the singing of “This Land is your Land” at the end of the service. He represents District 20, which includes large parts of San Antonio.

“It’s so hard to see so much hate and the consequence of that hate,” Castro said. “I was glad to see that there’s so many people of different faiths here to support the Jewish community.”


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