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At the start of Shabbat, Pittsburgh begins to heal

At the start of Shabbat, Pittsburgh begins to heal Items hang from a police roadblock near the Tree of Life Synagogue on Monday, after 11 pe...

At the start of Shabbat, Pittsburgh begins to heal


Items hang from a police roadblock near the Tree of Life Synagogue on Monday, after 11 people were killed in a mass shooting as they worshiped at the synagogue on Saturday morning. (Justin Merriman/For The Washington Post) November 2 at 11:43 PM

PITTSBURGH â€" They gathered in the shuttered street just as the sun began dipping towards the horizon. Men and women, in the shadow of the imposing concrete facade of Tree of Life, stood beyond the yellow police tape that still surrounds the building.

Here, underneath a stoplight, and amidst the din of traffic, they turned to the east â€" towards Israel â€" and began their prayers.

Across the city on Friday night, this ritual repeated itself in homes and in syn agogues. This group wanted to ensure that these evening prayers, which marked the start of Shabbat, continued at Tree of Life, even if the blood-stained sanctuary remains a crime scene, a place where 11 people seeking the solace of morning services had instead met their deaths.

“When you went to the funerals, you heard how dedicated they were to Shabbat,” said Sam Weinberg, principal of the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. He reached out to his students to gather here for Shabbat prayers, and many of them came, some donning yarmulkes in Steelers black-and-gold.

“It would have been a shame not to have them here,” he said.

It’s been nearly a week since a man burst into this synagogue in the heart of the historic Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, killing some of the most dedicated congregants and shaking the sense of security for Jews worshipping across the country. But even as Tree of Life remained a crime scene, and even as victims remained in the hosp ital, people lit Shabbat candles, prayed, shared food and attempted to reclaim a sense of peace.

About a mile away, the home of 69-year-old Myriam Gumerman, an eclectic crowd gathered to observe Shabbat . There was her friend Elkhaili Oumallal, a 35-year-old community college student and translator, whom she had befriended as a passenger in his Uber. Oumallal is Muslim and Gumerman Jewish, but both were raised in Morocco.

Then there were her neighbors: a Jewish couple from Amsterdam and a Christian couple â€" Anne Curtis and Tim Clark â€" who has lived in the neighborhood for more than four decades.

For Curtis, the dinner was an extension of the Pittsburgh concept of “nebby,” local slang that means “nosy,” but also conveys a sense of concern for neighbors. In the days since the shooting, she’s been calling and texting neighbors to ensure they were safe.

“The core is we take care of each other,” Curtis said.

Gumerman began Shabbat by l ighting a dozen yahrzeit candles, one for each of the victims and a 12th for those who were still in the hospital. The candles are normally lit on the anniversary of the death of loved ones.

Several of those victims were from the New Light congregation, which had met at Tree of Life regularly. But on this evening, they had to relocate down the street to Beth Shalom for Shabbat services. People crammed into the pews of the massive sanctuary.

“Tonight, I really want to keep my mouth shut,” Rabbi Jonathan Perlman told the congregants. “Because there are no words.”

Instead, the rabbi invited congregants to come to the front of the chapel to share their favorite memories of the victims and offer words of strength to one another.

One man, dressed more formally than he usually does for a Friday service, said he did so in memory of victim Melvin Wax, who wore his best even for casual services.

Many people laughed As they shared memories of his fond ness for telling jokes. He was very well-versed in Hebrew and highly intelligent.

After the testimonies, Perlman said the congregation will survive despite evil.

“We will continue on, Congregation New Light,” he said.

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Source: Google News | Netizen 24 United States

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