Colgate Jewish Union, Office of Chaplains Hold Vigil Following Pittsburgh Shooting


Community members honor the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting with a memorial vigil on Monday, October 29. Roughly 150 community members were in attendance.

Julia Klein, Executive Editor

The Colgate Jewish Union (CJU) and Office of the Chaplains held a memorial vigil on Monday, October 29 to honor the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting that took the lives of 11 Jewish people during a synagogue service on Saturday, October 27.

Approximately 150 community members attended the vigil to remember the victims of the shooting, which took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the shooting is the deadliest attack on Jews in United States history. Victims’ ages ranged from age 54 to 97. Six were injured. According to the L.A. Times, suspect Robert Bowers, 46, appeared in a federal courtroom on Monday, October 29. His actions are punishable by death.

The event was publicized via a Facebook post by the CJU/Hillel.

“The Colgate Jewish Union/ Hillel and Office of the Chaplains stand against anti-semitism, senseless violence, and discrimination of any kind,” the post read.

The vigil opened with remarks from Interim Director of Jewish Life Annette Goldmacher.

“Tonight, I ask that we join together to mourn these casualties, to take solace in one another, in our Jewish community, here at Colgate, across America, around the world, and in our greater community,” Goldmacher said.

“Over the past few years, incidents such as this have become more frequent and, every time, we face a long journey of recovery. It is never easy, but as a community and leaning on our friends and loved ones, we can support ourselves and one another.”

Professor in Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion Lesleigh Cushing led the community in her recitation of Psalm 91 from the Book of Psalms. CJU executive board members then lit 11 Yahrzeit candles for each of the 11 victims of the shooting as these victims’ names were read aloud. Each board member used the flames emanating from the memorial candles to light their own candles and the candles of those in attendance in silence. Attendees recited the Mourner’s Kaddish and sang Mi Shebeirach, a prayer for healing, in unison.

Attendees of the vigil expressed that the loss of these 11 lives was deeply felt on both an individual and community level. Senior Sydney Ziatek, a Pittsburgh native, spoke to the community about the personal impact of Saturday’s events as her grandparents’ friends were amongst those killed while attending Jewish services.

“I was really nervous to talk in the first place at the vigil, but I felt like it should be said that at least in Pittsburgh, it’s not just being treated as an attack against the Jewish community: it’s an attack on your neighbors, your friends, your doctors… you name it,” Ziatek said in response to the vigil.

The Newman Catholic Society held a separate candle lighting ceremony honoring victims on Sunday, October 29 during mass as part of their “Jewman Weekend.” This is an annual tradition where students of the Newman Community and CJU attend one another’s religious services.

A candle was lit in a pan of sand to honor the victims during this mass as part of a Catholic tradition. “I think that horrible occasions like what we’ve experienced this week give us a chance to reaffirm our commitment to each other, our love for each other, our concern for each other and our unwavering commitment to the wellbeing of both members of our community and to the Jewish community,…in the United States [and] worldwide,” Catholic Campus Minister Mark Shiner said. “I was cheered by the amount of support that came in last night already.”

Junior and Programming Director of the CJU, Jessica Stern, explained the effect this event has had on the Jewish community on campus.

“Despite such a horrible tragedy, the Jewish community on our campus has united so much as a result,” Stern said.

Contact Julia Klein at [email protected].