Pittsburgh- Rabbis of the Pittsburgh synagogue where a gunman massacred 11 worshipers during Sabbath prayers urged mourners at an interfaith memorial service on Sunday to embrace tolerance and unity, while the mayor vowed to “defeat hate with love.”
The funeral service took place at the University of Pittsburgh’s Soldiers and Sailors Hall, with an overflow crowd of over 2 500 people, as many speakers spoke of inclusion and criticized the political climate, saying it was toxic.
Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers chanted “vote” from the audience as he called on political leaders, starting with “those in the room,” to help put an end to hate speech.
“My words are not intended as political,” he said from the stage. “My mother always taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”
“What happened yesterday will not break us. It will not ruin us. We will continue to thrive and sing and worship and learn together and continue our historic legacy in the city with the friendliest people that I know,” said Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, choking back tears.
The service, “Stronger Together” opened with a performance by a Baptist gospel choir and included remarks by Christian and Muslim clergy.
The service was largely led by Meyers and two fellow rabbis representing the three Jewish congregations who used the synagogue targeted in Saturday’s deadly attack.
“This is the darkest hour in our city’s history,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto declared during Sunday’s service.
“But here’s another thing about Pittsburgh. We are resilient. We will work together as one. We will defeat hate with love. We will be a city of compassion and we will be welcoming to all people,” he said to cheers.
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Photo credit- Time