Fairfield University held a vigil for the 11 people who died in the Saturday, Oct. 27 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa. The University held an interfaith ceremony at the pavilion of the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius of Loyola on Oct. 30 to honor those that died and to meditate on those who suffer from hate and violence.
President Mark R. Nemec, Ph.D., spoke on communities coming together. He was followed by Rabbi James Prosnit of Congregation B’Nai Israel in Bridgeport, Conn., who spoke about the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society. The alleged shooter, Robert Bower, spread hate against HIAS on his social media, and specifically mentioned HIAS in his last social media post before the shooting.
Eleven candles were lit in honor of those that died in their house of worship. Those who narrowly escaped the shooting included Judah Samet, an 80-year old Holocaust survivor. According to CNN, “It just never ends. It’s never completely safe for Jews. It’s in the DNA. Not just America’s DNA, but the world’s,” Samet said.
Senior Olivia McEvoy was happy with the peace that was found in the service.
“I was impressed with the turnout and I was really glad people came. It was a very reverent service that was needed and powerful,” she said.
It’s been 73 years since the Holocaust; and the stated motivation of the alleged shooter targeted the synagogue for its religious purpose. Members of the Fairfield University community stood in solidarity with those who experience religious persecution.