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Peace rally honors Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims

By Danielle Haynes
1/9
Peace rally honors Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims
Actor Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers' widow, Joanne Rogers, speak to the crowd at the Rally for Peace in Point State Park in Pittsburgh on Friday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Hundreds of Pittsburghers, including actors, sports stars, religious leaders and first responders, gathered Friday in Pittsburgh's Point State Park to mourn the 11 people who died in last month's shooting at a synagogue.

The event, which included the reading of each of the 11 names and a moment of silence, was a solemn occasion to mark the end of the traditional Jewish period of mourning, but it also was a celebration of the city and peace.

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The unofficial emcee of the event was actor Michael Keaton, who grew up in the western Pennsylvania city and lived for a time in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting took place.

"If you want to see a city that's far, far stronger than hate, you should go to Pittsburgh," he told the gathered crowd.

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"If you want to see a city that's tolerant, accepting, inclusive and compassionate, you should go to Pittsburgh. If you want to bring hate, racism, prejudice and division, you should go to hell."

Eleven people died Oct. 27 when a gunman spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

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Those who died were Joyce Fienberg, 75; Rich Gottfried, 65; Rose Malinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal; married couple Bernice Simon, 84; and Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.

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Actor Tom Hanks also spoke, calling the connection among Pittsburhers "stronger than the iron and steel forged in the furnaces of this city."

"A visitor will know that Pittsburgh is a great city because Pittsburgh has been greatly tested. And in those trials, in your days of struggle, Pittsburgh has set an example of what can come next. And that what can come next can be good. In these past weeks, America and the world has been a visitor to your iron city. Pittsburgh has shown us what does come next, what good comes when the people of Allegheny and the Monongahela love their neighbors with no exceptions. Thank you, Pittsburgh for your example, for your inspiration and for your love of each other," he said.

Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who called 911 on the day of the shooting, offered thanks to the law enforcement officials who responded to the shooting. He said he would never use the word "hate" again in his life.

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"If you are with me, raise your hand that you will not say the word hate ever again. I might be an east coaster, but today and forever I am Pittsburgh," he said.

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