'It feels like we're going back in time': Shock, fear after synagogue shooting

- In the aftermath of Saturday's deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, members of the Jewish community around the Bay Area have been holding memorials for the victims and survivors. 

One was held at San Jose State Monday night that drew dozens of people, including students, faculty and community members. 

They are mourning and at the same time, they say they're looking ahead.

With prayers and song, people vowed to stand strong in this moment of darkness following the shooting. Speakers named the 11 victims and told their stories. 

"Bernice and Sylvan Simon were killed, the same place they were married in December 1956," said one speaker. 

Many at the vigil say there is a new sense of fear identifying themselves as being Jewish, but that they are resolute in maintaining pride in who they are. 

"Trying to force yourself to be proud of your Judaism; taking that step not to be scared of publicly walking around as a Jew," said Ronnie Baruch, a San Jose State student who helped organize the vigil. 

"Every time I hear of a Jew tucking in their Star of David necklace because they don't feel safe or not wearing a kippah because they don't want to identify as a Jew. The Jewish people are closeted," said Spencer Brodie, a San Jose State student who's also co-organizer of the vigil. 

They say coming together as a community with non-Jewish supporters helps. Community leaders are urging people to commit to performing a mitzvah, the Hebrew word for a good deed. 

"That's the only way to bring about true change, true light in this world that we're sorely missing," said Rabbi Shaya Berstein with Chabad at San Jose State. . 

People expressed shock and sadness over the killings and say they are trying to move forward. 

"It feels like we're going back in time, a time where Jewish people did not feel safe," said Sarita Bronstein, executive director of Hillel of Silicon Valley which provides services for Jewish students at San Jose State, Santa Clara University, De Anza College, Foothill College and West Valley College. 

As the vigil drew to an end, one organizer blew the shofar, an ancient musical horn--once for each of the victims.

"With all this darkness, the only thing we can do is add more light," said Mushka Berstein who attended the vigil with her two young sons and husband. 

Jewish community leaders say they hope to add more light by holding vigils in the coming days to bring together people of all faiths. Another one is planned for Tuesday at 5 p.m. at San Jose City Hall.
 

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories