Friday, 24 May 2024

Torontonians gather to pay tribute to Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims

Thousands of people attended a candlelight vigil in Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square to honour the 11 people killed in Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Members of the Jewish community held candles as they sang traditional songs “Lo Yisa Goy” and “Kol Haolam Kulo,” and later stood for a moment of silence.

Speakers at the gathering included Judy Winberg, cousin of Joyce Fienberg, a Toronto-raised woman who was among the victims.

Winberg led the crowd in a prayer that began, “grant us peace, your most precious gift.”

That was enough to bring Rachel Cohen to tears and hug her seven-year-old son, standing beside her, a little tighter.

“I can’t even imagine what that family has been feeling since they lost their loved one in Pittsburgh,” she said. “I’ve just been thinking that can happen here and we need to stand strong and support each other.”

The names of Fienberg and the 10 other victims were read out by a rabbi, following which the gathered crowds bowed their heads and observed a moment of silence.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also spoke at the gathering, telling the crowd that his Progressive Conservative government and the people of Ontario are “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” with the Jewish community and those affected by the tragedy.

“I can tell you, my friends, we will always, always stand with you, and we will never, ever waver,” Ford said.

Border Security Minister Bill Blair represented Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the vigil.

“The victims of this horrible crime were mothers and fathers, grandfathers, beloved family and friends. They were united by their community and by their faith, and they were attacked as they prayed,” Blair said.

“While we gather united in grief, let us also stand united in strength and resolve. The scourge of hatred and violence could never be tolerated in any part of our society. We all know that, tragically, anti-Semitism has throughout history been the most pernicious form of hatred, and that the Jewish people have long suffered and tragically stood alone far too often in the face of violence born in hatred.

“But they must stand alone no more.”

— With files from the Canadian Press

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