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    11.02.18 Vigil Honors Those Lost at Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting in Pittsburgh
    Tree of Life Vigil_121x131

    Three student organizations—the Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA), the Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA), and Chabad—came together Nov. 1 to host a sunset vigil in memory of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. The vigil, proposed by MLSA to show support for Jewish members of the Law School community, was held in the plaza in front of the Law School and was attended by students, faculty members, and staff.

    “We realized how important it is to stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters at all times, but especially in these terrible times of hatred,” said MLSA member Felicia Castaldo ‘20.

    At the vigil, JLSA President Esther Feuer ‘19 introduced the first speaker, Interim Dean Maryellen Fullerton, who said she was “truly moved” by the joint efforts of the student groups to organize the gathering. She then quoted from a letter George Washington wrote to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport, R.I., in which he offered a vision of religious tolerance and liberty for all who had fled tyranny, promising that “‘every one (sic) shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths….’”

    “Now it is up to us to scatter light,” Fullerton said, joining with students to light candles to honor each of the 11 victims of the mass shooting on Oct. 27. A member of the Tree of Life Synagogue, who knew two of the victims, also was present for the event and lit one of the candles.

    “Our community here at Brooklyn Law School is open, inclusive and tolerant to everybody,” said Joshua Trachtenberg ‘19, president of the Brooklyn Law School Chabad Organization. He thanked the members of MLSA and spoke of how the Muslim community at the Law School quickly reached out to show support in the wake of the shooting, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. While he lamented the ever-present threat of antisemitism, he noted that Pittsburgh’s nickname, the “City of Bridges,” should serve as a metaphor for the connection people continue to seek.  

    Trachtenberg then led a recitation of Psalm 23 in Hebrew and English, and the vigil concluded with the Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning.

    It was a solemn gathering as evening fell on the plaza, but like the lighted candles, a warm spirit of community and good will shone brightly in the dark.

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