CLEVELAND – Rabbis from a local synagogue invited their members and anyone in the community to go with them to Pittsburgh after a shooter went into the Tree of Life Synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and killed eleven people during Saturday services.
“We are Jews united across the world” said Mary Weinberg, a member of the B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike before she and others got in their cars on Sunday to travel to Pittsburgh in a showing of solidarity.
“It affects us very directly and very personally and it affects us because we share the same fears that they do and we know that it could happen here,” said Rabbi Stephen Weiss.
“We want to stand in solidarity with them and know that we are by their side, that we support them and that we will be there to comfort them and try to provide the help they need,” Weiss said.
Ike Yedid and his wife decided to join the group of about a dozen he said the shooter’s thought that Jews want to harm others is completely senseless.
“They are defenseless people worshiping before God and this is the worst kind of evil anti-Semitic act that you could imagine,” Yedid said.
Weinberg said she felt she had to do something and gave up her Sunday plans to attend the inter-faith vigil and gathering organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh at the city’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.
“This felt like the most important thing that I could do would be to go with other people in solidarity to Pittsburgh so that we can be there for them that they don’t have this feeling that they’re alone,” she said.
Even with tight security at many synagogues in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, many in the Jewish community say they live and worship in fear of shootings like this one every day.
“We live in constant fear that something might happen that there might be an attack within a Jewish institution, outside of a Jewish institution,” said Weiss.
Despite their grief, shock and anger, people are energized to stand against the hate that fueled the shooter.
“The answer to hate is to get closer not to move farther away not to insulate ourselves, but actually move closer to various communities so we can know each other one on one,” Weinberg said.
Weiss says it will take real commitment to action-- and not just words-- to make change.
“We have to bring this scourge of hatred to end in this country. We have to say enough and that means getting involved in organizations that fight against hatred it means speaking out it means getting involved in the political process,” Weiss said.