Houston Hillel holds vigil for synagogue shooting victims
A crowd gathered in the Student Center Plaza Tuesday afternoon to hold a candlelight vigil for those slain during Saturday’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Robert Bowers, 46, allegedly killed 11 people and wounded six others, including four police officers, during the attack. The act is believed to be “the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States,” according to a statement released by the Anti-Defamation League.
The event was organized by Houston Hillel, a Houston-based Jewish organization. Members of the UH community gave speeches in support of the victims, prayed and signed a banner with messages for the Tree of Life synagogue, where the fatal shooting occurred.
“We hold candles to remind ourselves no matter where we stand and what our feelings are, we can move forward with just the smallest amount of light to illuminate our paths,” said religious studies professor and Houston Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Kenny Weiss.
Dozens of people attended the vigil. Members of the UH community flocked to the event for comfort and to make a statement against nationalist rhetoric. During his speech, Weiss said some also needed guidance for what they should do following the shooting.
“I am very terribly saddened by the horrific acts committed this weekend during Sabbath,” said finance senior Patricia Martinez, who spoke at the vigil.
Martinez, who identifies as a Christian, said people of her religion are taught to love one another, and the shooting that happened Saturday was not an act of love but an act of hate.
Attendees sang two Jewish prayers in support of the victims.
“Today, we especially need the comfort and refuge God’s protected wings provide for us,” Weiss said. “They shelter us from harm and reassure us we are not alone, the victims are not alone and their families and friends are not alone.”