Hundreds Gather in Old Pasadena for Interfaith Remembrance of Pittsburgh Synagogue Victims

‘Poisonous strain of prejudice running through this nation’s veins,’ says local cantor

Published : Friday, November 2, 2018 | 4:37 AM

“The warning lights in this country are no longer yellow,” Cantor Ruth Berman Harris of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center told a hushed and somber audience at Memorial Park’s Levitt Pavilion Thursday evening. “They are red. Blood red.”

“There is a poisonous strain of prejudice running through this nation’s veins,” the Argentinian-born Harris said. “The future of this country needs us now more than ever,” she added, before leading the hundreds gathered at the Pavilion in the song, “I Will Build My World From Love,” and then reading aloud the names of the victims of last Saturday’s killing spree at a synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Eleven congregants were shot to death on October 27 when an anti-Semitic gunman burst into the Tree of Life Synagogue in a Pittsburgh suburb, opening fire with automatic weapons during a baby-naming ceremony. Six others were wounded, including four police officers.

Harris led off the group of speakers at the “United Against Hate” event, sponsored by local Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), which featured a host of interfaith leaders paying tribute to last week’s victims and survivors.

Pasadena area religious leaders, from Jewish to Catholic, Sikh, Baptist, and Muslim, honored the victims and condemned the violence.

Congresswoman Judy Chu hosted the event

“This is an arrow through my heart,” said Congresswoman Chu. “This is an attack on our humanity, and there is no place for it in this world.”

Chu continued, remarking on the hundreds of similar events being held throughout the nation this week.

“I am heartbroken to attend yet another event like this,” she said, “But tonight, as I look out to you here, I only see love.”

Like many of the speakers, Chu alluded to President Trump and commented on the growing number of hate-inspired events in America, saying, “We need to change this nation’s tone.”

“Bigotry is like a wildfire,” said Chu, adding, “It’s time to stand up for our common communities. Not one more generation should know this kind of pain.”

Jason Moss, executive director for the Jewish Federation of San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys said that the synagogue attack was “but one more indication that a war is underway for America’s soul,” and made reference to the beginnings of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

“Where once America and Americans celebrated differences,” he said, “today there is a conscious and deliberate effort to intimidate, and to keep silent those who represent different religious, sexual and political beliefs and practices.”

“The rise of antisemitism and how the rhetoric of hate impacts lives is profound. In fact, an example of what can happen if hate goes unchecked is the Holocaust.”

State Senator Anthony Portantino also referenced the current administration, before quoting Gandhi, who said that the world could endure some “dirty drops of water, in this, our great ocean of humanity.”

But, asked Portantino, “Did Gandhi contemplate just how many dirty drops of water there would be in 2018?”

Portantino then spoke of a Squirrel Hill rabbi, who said “We cannot soften this blow, we cannot rationalize this, we cannot explain this away,” and let it lessen our focus on the fact that what happened was hatred, what happened was violence, what happened in America was anti-semitic, and we must confront that every single moment.”

Julianna Serrano of All Saints Church returned to the idea of the strength of love, telling the audience, “We believe that love always wins, that hate has no place in Pittsburgh, and it has no home here, in Pasadena, either.”

Serrano continued, “When we come together to love, hate cannot live here, It may hurt, it may harm, it may kill, but it will not triumph, because we believe in the sacredness of each person, and we will commit to always take action, fighting, resisting, advocating, and voting, to ensure that every person in this nation is protected, respected and insured a life filled with happiness and peace.”

Following the speakers, the hundreds gathered at the event left small tea lights around a large tree in the park, decorated with the names of the victims, now left to bathe in the comfort of hundreds of the tiny lamps, and a glow from the hearts of the participants.

blog comments powered by Disqus