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Bloomington gathers to honor those killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting


Rabbi Sue Silberberg, executive director of the Hillel Center, right, hugs senior Sydney Recht, left, after Recht spoke during a memoriam gathering honoring Oct. 29 in the Hillel Center. The service was in honor of the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue Saturday in Pittsburgh. Matt Begala

Senior Sydney Recht, an IU student from Pittsburgh, said her grandparents fled to Squirrel hill, a Pittsburgh neighborhood, in 1937 to escape the Nazi party. 

Recht’s voice broke as she spoke at a memorial service about how Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill affected her vibrant and tight-knit Jewish community. 

Students, administrators and members of the Jewish and Bloomington communities gathered for a memorial service Monday evening Oct. 29 at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, to remember the 11 people killed at Saturday’s shooting. 

“I ache for my great-grandparents today and forever in that their place of escape has been turned into what is now being called the deadliest attack on the Jewish people in the United States,” Recht said.

Rabbi Sue Silberberg said she was grateful to see so many people at the service but was sad they had to be there. 

“I think it’s a time to grieve together as a community to express our sorrow, our grief, our anger, our fear but then also to feel the strength of community,” Silberberg said. 

IU President Michael McRobbie offered his sympathies to those killed, the families, the police officers and the Jewish community as a whole. 

“It is also essential in the wake of such an incident to renounce it in no uncertain terms for what it truly is, an act of bigoted anti-Semitism, an act of violent extremism and plainly and simply a hate crime,” McRobbie said.

He said that the rise of hate crimes is an ongoing national tragedy. 

“We cannot and we must not hide from our responsibility as a community to confront and condemn such acts of anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred whenever and wherever we find them,” he said. 

A student hugs senior Natalie Jaffe, left, after a memoriam gathering Oct. 29 in the Hillel Center. Jaffe spoke at the service that honored the 11 people who were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue Saturday in Pittsburgh.  Matt Begala

Student president of Hillel Brad Sadoff summed up his feelings about the shooting in one word: appalled. 

“But even that falls short of conveying the extreme emotions I felt as the news broke,” he said. 

He encouraged students to fight against hate to shape a better future and said Hillel was here for anyone who needed it.

Dean of students Dave O’Guinn said seeing all the people there together warmed his heart. 

Other speakers, including Rabbi Yehoshua Chincholker, encouraged those in attendance to practice mitzvah in honor of those lost. Mitzvah is the Hebrew word for a good dead or a religious duty. 

Those in attendance were led in the traditional prayer of mourning called the Mourner’s Kaddish. Rabbi Ron Klotz, who led the prayer, pointed out that it is tradition to never say it with fewer than 10 people, showing that Jewish people never mourn alone.  

Through the event, the IU Jewish a capella group Hooshir sang religious songs. To close, the members asked everyone in attendance to join in singing Shalom Rav, a song of peace.

People joined in, the room lit by a few lights and 11 candles, each honoring one of the people killed. Joyce Fienberg, Rich Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger. 

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