Various Bay Area vigils to pray, grieve after New Zealand attacks

New Zealand's sorrow and outrage are shared around the world, in countless vigils and memorial services.

A gathering Friday evening in Marin County drew a few hundred participants in a spirit of solidarity at the Islamic Center of Mill Valley. 

The event began with a prayer in Arabic, calling on Muslims to meet fear and hardship with prayer and patience. 

It was a message that resonated with the multi-faith crowd.  

"We are all literally from the same ancestor, " said Rabbi Paul Steinberg of Congregation Kol Shofer in Tiburon. 

Steinberg was one of several speakers to address the crowd. He noted that the Jewish community stands united with Muslims who in turn supported them after Pittsburgh's synagogue shooting.  

"Each and every individual has infinite value, infinite worth, and infinite dignity," said Steinberg, " by virtue of the fact each of us is a child of God."  

On the steps of the mosque, 49 participants held candlelights aloft, for 49 seconds of silence to honor the 49 victims in Christchurch. 

Inside the mosque, worshippers knelt in Friday prayers, everyone mindful of the innocent victims so cruelly cut down doing while practicing their faith. 

"I hear your cries, I see your sorrow, and I am moved by your grief, " said speaker Ashley Reid of the Marin Interfaith Council.

Reid urged listeners to take action in their own lives, by calling-out incidences of  oppression when they occur. .

"Terrorists don't magically appear, they are taught to hate," said Reid, "so that means we have to be interrupters od this hate and respond with truth and love." 

The message from Marin's state assemblyman was two fold. 

"We come together in defiance of terror and to share thee love for our neighbors," said state Rep. Marc Levine of San Rafael. 

He also believes it's important for California to allocate more money in grants for targeted groups, so vulnerable sites such as schools, not-profits, and places of worship, can harden their defenses.  

"There are significant hate groups in California and we are well aware of them," Levine told KTVU.  "We are grateful there has not been a terror attack on the level of Christchurch but we need to make sure everyone who is a target of hate is protected".

The crowd included many families, and after the presentations and prayers, everyone was urged to mingle at the mosque and make new friends. Mosque members said they were comforted by the community support, and their faith.

"Even though they might be dead in this world, we strongly believe they are still alive with God," said Moulana Ahmed Baporia of the Islamic Center.

Rather than fear, the emphasis was on fellowship. 

"We see the outpouring of support since this happened and that's what really matters," said mosque member Hamza Salehbhia."We're growing stronger as a community to eradicate that hate." 

At 6:30 a.m. Saturday, the South Bay Islamic Association is holding a prayer gathering at 2345 Harris Way in San Jose. Later at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, a vigil is being held at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library on the campus of San Jose State University in San Jose. 

The Pacific Institute is holding two vigils at 8 p.m. Saturday. One is at 1257 Tasman Drive in Sunnyvale and the other is being held at 979 San Pablo Ave. in Albany. 

Sunday, a remembrance will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Muslim Community Center-East Bay at 5724 W. Las Positas Blvd. in Pleasanton and at 5:30 p.m. a candlelight vigil will be held in the Multifaith Sanctuary in St. Joseph's Hall at Santa Clara University. 

Bay City News contributed to this report.