Grief, Inspiration As San Antonio Mourns Pittsburgh Synagogue Victims
More than 1,500 people packed Temple Beth El in San Antonio Tuesday evening for an interfaith vigil to mourn the loss of 11 people killed over the weekend during the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh.
Cantor Julie Berlin led the crowd in a recitation of "Oseh Shalom," the Jewish biblical prayer for peace. The prayer has consoled generations of Jews who endured some of history's worst persecutions and loosely translates to: May the one who makes peace in heaven make peace for us and all the people of Israel.
The prayer resonated with the crowd that included Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs.
WATCH | Stream of the interfaith vigil at Temple Beth El
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who is Jewish, addressed the vigil.
“There is a concept in the Jewish faith that we call 'Tikun Olam,' ” Niremberg said, “meaning to repair the world, to make it a better place.”
Niremberg saw hope in the midst of the tragedy, which he called the worst act of anti-Simitic terrorism in U.S. history.
“We live in a shattered society," he said. "Our world is imperfect. All of us have not only an opportunity but a responsibility to heal the wounds of hate with the salve of compassion."
Nirenberg called out what he described as dangerous rhetoric in politics today.
“The free and independent press is not the enemy of the people — neither are refugees or immigrants nor gay or transgendered people or anyone who looks, loves, or prays differently from you or me,” he said.
The crowd was led in the prayer of mourning for those who died in Pittsburgh. The ceremony ended as the crowd sang a classic American song, "This Land is Your Land."
Ronit Sherwin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, said the vigil’s organizers were energized by the community's support.
“Hopefully we’ll take that strength that we felt tonight and take it out to the world,” she said. “In some ways that's very Jewish. You know that after tragedy we want to say, 'Well, what can we do? ... We have to continue living — living with strength.”