PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Congregants gathered at Beth Shalom in Squirrel Hill for Shabbat services on Saturday, one week after 11 people were killed in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
All three congregations that used Tree of Life for worship services attended services on Saturday at the Beth Shalom congregation building located at the corner of Beacon and Murray Avenues in the Squirrel Hill.
The service began with one minute and 11 seconds of silence at the exact time that Rabbi Jeffrey Myers called 911 one week ago.
“We all lost 11 people. We lost 11 Jewish people and we’re all together to support each other,” congregant Kevin Shevitz said.
More than 1,000 people came to honor the 11 victims.
Pittsburgh was cast into the national spotlight by the tragedy, and Councilman Cory O’Connor says the city is showing what it’s made of.
“We want to present that to the world, that, you know, we are a tight community. We’re going to help each other get through this process, but that’s what Pittsburghers do,” he said.
Part of that national spotlight included a visit from President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. The president and his family members visited Rabbi Myers at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Some criticized Myers for welcoming Trump to the synagogue, but on Saturday, Myers responded by saying it’s customary to welcome a guest into your home whether you agree with them or not.
“I respected it. It was right on point. It was a basic tenant of the Jewish religion. No matter what you think of a person, a stranger, a visitor into your house, you welcome them. You treat them politely,” congregant Martin Scoratow said.
Myers says he believes you can’t fight hate with more hate, and he says he told the president to end hate speech, saying it only leads to hateful action.
“It tells me that hate is not a good thing. Good is the right path to go,” young congregant Robert Macon Connors said.
The rabbi ended his sermon with some advice for the congregation. He told everyone to follow a path of good because that’s the only way to heal the community.
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A crowd of about 100 people also gathered outside the Tree of Life Synagogue, standing in the rain while Rabbi Chuck Diamond conducted a Shabbat prayer vigil.
Rabbi Diamond was a rabbi at Tree of Life for seven years. His service included poetry, songs and prayers.