Eleven people were killed in a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday. Three days later, members of multiple faiths in the Williamsburg community are gathering to mourn and honor the victims.
The Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists will host a multi-faith vigil at 7 p.m. Monday in light of the anti-Semitic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Temple Beth El Rabbi David Katz said.
“My congregants absolutely need a place to mourn and pray in light of what happened,” Katz said. “Many of us are in shock and distraught, and don’t even quite know what to say.”
Katz said the community, regardless of faith, is invited and encouraged to attend. Katz plans to make remarks, as will leaders of several other faith-based groups in Greater Williamsburg – including New Zion, St. Martin, First Baptist, Williamsburg Christian, St. Steven and the Wesley Foundation.
“I believe it will be meaningful for folks in my community to have neighbors sitting next to them, to help us know we are not alone, that we are surrounded by folks who care for us and share our values,” Katz said.
Immediately after Saturday’s shooting Katz said he began receiving messages from other ministers and religious leaders in town, asking him how they could help. A neighbor in the community left flowers by the temple’s front door, and many residents called to express solidarity.
He said the support “goes a long way,” not only in helping the Temple Beth El community deal with the attack, but in nipping hatred and violence in the bud. By bringing members of different faiths and groups together Katz said the ignorance and hatred that fueled the shooting can be eliminated.
“I believe that the danger of casting others as ‘other,’ the danger of deciding the people you don’t know are someone that you can’t trust, comes from not knowing who they are,” Katz said. “There’s nothing that says it couldn’t have been us, and that reality is frightening and shocking and upsetting. For many of us, the core of who we are is being Jewish…At least one person felt it was okay to actively target us.”
Want to go?
Where: Williamsburg Unitarian Univeralists, 3051 Ironbound Rd, Williamsburg, VA
When: 7 p.m.