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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting were remembered today during memorial services at the state Capitol in Harrisburg.
The unusual joint session began around 11:30 a.m., and brought together members of the state House of Representatives and Senate.
About two dozen members of all three congregations that were holding services at the synagogue the day of the shooting rampage were also in attendance.
WATCH: Memorial Service —
During the session, the lawmakers voted unanimously to pass Rep. Dan Frankel’s resolution to establish April 10 as “Stronger Than Hate Day” across Pennsylvania to honor the victims, survivors, families and first responders.
“The assault on these three congregations was an act of unimaginable evil,” Frankel said.
Eleven people were killed in the shooting last October at the Squirrel Hill synagogue, and seven others were wounded.
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Frankel made sure politicians across the state heard the 11 victims’ names and their stories. It was a personal moment for Frankel, who was born and raised in Squirrel Hill.
“We need, here in the legislature, to recognize it, to call it out and to have an opportunity to be together with the victims and other members of our community to understand that they’re supported,” Frankel said.
Rabbi Cheryl Klein, of the Dor Hadash congregation, felt that support.
“We are much stronger than hate. This will not occur again,” she said.
She called Wednesday’s ceremony “healing.”
“But to have grounds to come together where Republicans and Democrats meet on something that’s so foundational, maybe that can begin to show the level of civil discourse that we now need to have,” Klein said.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said it’s a step that makes us safer.
“Hate speech begets hate crimes, and the more we can understand that, internalize it and work to address it, the safer we can all be,” he said.
Watch Part 2 of Meghan Schiller’s report —
The event was healing for everyone who made the trip from Pittsburgh, including two women who will forever be connected because of that day.
Andrea Wedner was shot and injured in the shooting, and her mother, Rose Mallinger, was killed.
“I was wounded in my arm, and I am making progress. It’s going to be a long, a long process, but it’s getting there, so that is encouraging to me,” she said.
Wedner sat on the House floor as Frankel told everyone about her dear mother.
“It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear her name. I miss her terribly. She shouldn’t have died, and she shouldn’t have died this way,” she said.
She has been finding support these past few months in Michele Rosenthal. Her brothers, David and Cecil, were both killed in the shooting.
“Actually right now, standing here, we’re holding each other’s hands. We’ve given each other strength, the group of 11. It’s not a group that anyone should ever be a part of,” Rosenthal said.
But that group made its way across the state to recognize their loved ones’ legacy and for some healing.
“Every event that I have been through is helpful to me. I love being around people and feel the comfort from other people and the way Dan spoke, being from the community meant even more,” Wedner said.
Rosenthal says her brothers exemplified kindness and love, and she says Pittsburghers can help by doing the same.
“Just spreading love and kindness. It is such a simple thing to just say hello, say good morning, help somebody across the street, just do something good and truly love your neighbor. That’s what makes Pittsburgh so wonderful, so if we can do stuff like that, that’s how we’re gonna overcome this hate,” Rosenthal said.