Vigil commemorates victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

On+October+28th%2C+2018%2C+after+the+candlelight+vigil+is+held+on+the+main+quad%2C+students+and+officials+gather+to+sign+a+card+showing+their+support+for+those+affected+by+the+recent+shooting+which+occurred+at+a+synagogue+in+Pittsburgh%2C+PA.
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Vigil commemorates victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

On October 28th, 2018, after the candlelight vigil is held on the main quad, students and officials gather to sign a card showing their support for those affected by the recent shooting which occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

On October 28th, 2018, after the candlelight vigil is held on the main quad, students and officials gather to sign a card showing their support for those affected by the recent shooting which occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

Alex Sardjev

On October 28th, 2018, after the candlelight vigil is held on the main quad, students and officials gather to sign a card showing their support for those affected by the recent shooting which occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

Alex Sardjev

Alex Sardjev

On October 28th, 2018, after the candlelight vigil is held on the main quad, students and officials gather to sign a card showing their support for those affected by the recent shooting which occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

By Daniel Renteria, Contributing Writer

A vigil was hosted Sunday by Illini Hillel and Illini Chabad, campus centers for Jewish life, to commemorate victims of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

Robert Bowers, a 46-year-old man from Pennsylvania, opened fire while making anti-Semitic statements at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday morning, killing 11 people.

Chancellor Robert Jones, Provost Andreas Cangellaris and University Police Chief Craig Stone all spoke at the vigil, along with rabbis and Jewish students from across the Champaign-Urbana community.

According to Irene Zharnitsky, president of Illini Hillel and organizer of the vigil, the organization of the event started the morning of the shooting, with the help of other Jewish community members.

“As president of Hillel, it is part of my responsibility for whenever anything happens to the Jewish community to participate and make sure that the community feels whole and still safe and united,” Zharnitsky said.

Elan Karoll, the person who initiated the planning of the vigil, also spoke on his desire to ensure the Jewish community was united.

“The desire is for our community to come together in this really difficult time, to express these emotions, to mourn, to pray and to move forward together, that’s sort of the purpose of the event,” Karoll said.

Karoll said he also wishes to bring attention to the rise of anti-Semitism on campus.

“For a long time now, we have been dealing with a rise in anti-Semitism,” he said. “To manifest itself in such a violent way in Pittsburgh is a scary reminder to all of us on campus about how vulnerable we are as a community.”

Jones also addressed anti-Semitism on campus and across the country at the vigil. He said although the Saturday shooting happened in Pittsburgh, it was an attack on the entire Jewish community, and it was an attack on us all.

“Once again, we are forced to come together to mourn the terrible cost of anti-Semitism, hatred and intolerance that we see across our nation, and our sadness is even greater in the knowledge that this act could have happened in our own community,” Jones said.

Cangellaris addressed the need for love in the fight against hate during his speech at the vigil.

“Let us remember that loving a stranger is perhaps the best answer we have to hatred,” he said. “It will become something that no community will ever have to deal with moving forward.”

Stone addressed the increase of mass shooting over the years, including at the Mosque in Minneapolis, at the Baptist Church in South Carolina, at Sandy Hook Elementary School and at a cinema in Colorado. He also talked about what he perceives to be the causes.

“What are the underlying issues? Mental health, people with no religious belief or faith and access to high power weapons,” he said.

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Correction: A previous version of the story only mentioned the event was hosted by Illini Hillel. The Daily Illini regrets this error.