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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Timing can be the difference between life and death.
Many people who came together for the vigil in Squirrel Hill on Saturday night were thinking about how it could have been them.
KDKA met a rabbi who grew up on Murray Avenue and now lives in Oregon. He led a service at Tree of Life Synagogue Friday night, and a friend of his was leading a service Saturday morning, which he was supposed to attend as well.
Perhaps it was fate or an act of God that kept Rabbi Husbands-Hankin from leaving for the synagogue on time.
“I was late for this morning, so I wasn’t there at the time, and I received a phone call from a friend telling me not to go because of what was happening,” said Rabbi Husbands-Hankin.
The rabbi went immediately, worried for his dear friend.
“I went up to the synagogue to just be in the perimeter to wait for my friend to come out. I heard rapid fire shooting happening. He ended up being in the hospital. He was one of the people wounded,” said Rabbi Husbands-Hankin.
Now, his focus is praying for his friend of over 45 years and all the others killed and wounded in the massacre.
“It’s an attack on everything that we stand for as a country. Being a multi-ethnic and multi-faith and the beautiful nation we’ve been developing,” said Rabbi Husbands-Hankin.
When asked how do we fight such hate? The rabbi said by doing exactly what the community did Saturday night.
“We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitic speech, zero tolerance for anti-Semitic behavior, zero tolerance for anti-Semitic violence,” said Pastor Vincent Kolb, of Sixth Presbyterian Church on Murray Avenue.
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People from all faiths came together to show love and solidarity.
“I was at a meeting last week where they were helping Muslim refugees to this country. We can’t express enough gratitude for what they’ve been doing, and to see they have been hurting like this is really heartbreaking,” said Wasi Mohammed, of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
The message being that the goodness of a community will always triumph over evil.
“I think the message is always neighborliness and the message is always love,” said Pastor Kolb.
KDKA asked Rabbi Husbands-Hankin if his friend is going to be okay. He answered, “God-willing.”