A man armed with an assault riffle and several handguns walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in a Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh, killing 11 and wounding six Saturday morning. The suspect reportedly shouted anti-Semitic comments as he gunned down worshipers.
Sunday’s Boulder vigil was streamed live on Har Hashem’s Facebook page.
Congregation Har HaShem Rabbi Fred Greene estimated that close to 700 people attended, with several hundred standing. Attendees included Boulder Mayor Pro Tem Aaron Brockett, legislators and leaders from other faiths.
“Our togetherness is our strength,” Brockett said.
Greene urged attendees to financially support institutions, to vote and to “go out and meet somebody new and tell each other our stories.”
“It’s time to show up on one another’s lives,” he said.
Hadi Abdulmatin, with the Islamic Center of Boulder, talked about the common theme across faith traditions that both human life and places of worship are scared.
“We mourn with the Jewish community all across this nation and all across this world,” he said.
Nevei Kodesh Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny first asked clergy members to stand, then people from other faiths and finally everyone in the synagogue.
“Take a moment here to feel your feet on the floor, and you feel this mass of people to the left of you, to the right of you, behind you, around you, to feel this web of connection, to feel this web of solidarity, to feel this faith, this hope for a better future that brings us together,” she said.
She said she’s heard grief, pain, “the sadness that comes with the sense of the inevitable” and “a sense of disquiet about what is next” from her congregation. She also received enthusiastic applause when calling for gun control.
“Yes, we need to stand with the Jewish community,” she said. “Yes, we need to stand with all communities, all communities that are the victims of violence.”
Political, civic and faith leaders also led an emotional vigil on Sunday evening at Denver’s Temple Emanuel.
About 3,000 people attended the Denver vigil, said Scott Levin, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. Many had to sit on the ground or stand in overflow rooms.
The Denver vigil was led by Rabbi Joseph R. Black and several interfaith leaders and included speeches from Mayor Michael Hancock, Gov. John Hickenlooper, the police chiefs of Aurora and Denver, and organizers from Jewish advocacy groups.
“This is not OK,” Hickenlooper said from the podium in reference to the Pittsburgh shooting.
Echoing a message of unity, the governor added an allusion to the need for gun control.
“We must create the rules and regulations to safeguard our community,” Hickenlooper said.
Speakers from the Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Jewish faiths evoked the memories of other mass shootings that have taken place in houses of worship.
“We must firmly stop white supremacy,” Colorado Muslim Society general counsel Qusair Mohamedbhai said.
The loudest applause was reserved for condemnation of “political leaders” who sow division.
“I know as an elected official, what I say matters,” Hancock said. “I would rather promote a civic society than tear people apart.”
The crowd responded with a standing ovation to his words and other calls for civility from political leaders.
Adding to Hancock’s message, Interfaith Alliance executive director Rev. Amanda Henderson said “visceral division” has been propagated by leaders. The crowd responded with chants of “Vote, Vote, Vote.”