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Evanstonians gathered at Beth Emet Synagogue the evening of Oct. 28 for an interfaith vigil in remembrance of the 11 Jewish men and women gunned down the day before at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest such attack on Jewish Americans in the nation’s history. Beth Emet Rabbi Andrea London led the service, accompanied by, among others, cantorial staff from both Beth Emet and Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation.
Noting the numerous times Evanstonians have gathered for support in the wake of violence in the past few years, Rabbi London said, “These are not the times that we want to gather. … This is not why I wanted to be here. But sometimes we gather because we know that we need to be here, that when they come for any of us, they come for all of us. So we stand together.”
Mayor Stephen Hagerty addressed the gathering, as did Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen. At one point, Mayor Hagerty asked non-Jewish audience members to stand, showing that numerous persons of different faiths and beliefs were in attendance to show solidarity. Beth Emet Emeritus Rabbi Peter Knobel also spoke, calling for a national commission to study the nation’s current issues with hate-motivated violence and rhetoric.
Additional speakers included clergy and advocates representing members of numerous faiths, including Pastor Daniel Ruen of Grace Lutheran Church; David Eber, JRC’s rabbi for education; Zaher Sahloul, founder of the Syria Faith Initiative; Candace Hill, a member of Evanston’s Baha’i community; and Rev. Michael Nabors of Second Baptist Church.
Also in attendance were Cook County Board Commissioner Larry Suffredin; State Senator Daniel Biss; and State Representatives Laura Fine and Robyn Gabel. U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Beth Emet member, did not attend but sent a message that Rabbi London read early in the gathering. At the end of the program, most religious personnel and elected officials who were in attendance gathered and lit candles in memory of the 11 individuals who were killed in Pittsburgh.