City Remembers Victims of Shooting

Interfaith Vigil Held for Tree of Life Synagogue Tragedy

Levi Herron, Metro Editor

An estimated 400 Cambridge residents gathered outside City Hall on the night of Tuesday, October 30th to remember the eleven people lost in a brutal mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 26th.

The killer, Robert Gregory Bowers, shouted anti-semitic phrases as he committed the heinous attack. Soon after the shooting started, police shot and wounded Bowers, forcing him to retreat into a room. He later surrendered to officers, and muttered to them that he “wanted all Jews to die.”

Most of those killed were elderly, including one woman who was 97 years old. In addition to the eleven civilians killed, six other people were injured, including four Pittsburgh police officers who were shot while running towards the gunfire.

People all over the country have responded to the attack by voicing their support for the victims and their families. The City of Cambridge organized an interfaith vigil for community members to mourn for the victims.

Many local politicians attended the vigil, including City Councilors Alanna Mallon, Sumbul Siddiqui, and Tim Toomey, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Officials from the Cambridge Police Department and various levels of city and state government also attended.

The vigil was led by the director of the Cambridge Peace Commission, Brian Corr, and speakers included faith leaders and city officials. Before the speakers started, Police Superintendent Christine Elow issued a statement regarding the attack, saying, “It is our job as the police to provide extra attention and support to faith communities. Our support goes out to the families of the eleven people killed, and to the Pittsburgh Police.”

“There is no law that will stop hatred; instead, we must speak out.””

— Mayor Marc McGovern

The ceremony began with a reading from the Torah by Rabbi Emily Mathis of the Tremont Street Shul. Mayor Marc McGovern then gave a thought-provoking and impassioned speech, imploring individuals to “honor the lives of those lost by growing our community,” and stating that “there is no law that will stop hatred; instead, we must speak out.” City Manager Louis DiPasquale also spoke, reminding residents that, as a city, Cambridge strives to be welcoming to all in its community.

After the government officials spoke, there was an interfaith portion to the service, which began with emotional words from Harvard’s Muslim chaplain, Khalil Abdur Rashid. Rashid asked the community to remember to be hopeful, and said, “We will not rest until all are honored for the sake of their community.”

There was then a speech from Reverend Robin Luttjohann, the pastor from Faith Lutheran Church, who said, “Fascism doesn’t always start with anti-semitism, but it works its way around to it eventually.”

“Fascism doesn’t always start with anti-semitism, but it works it’s way around to it eventually.””

— Reverend Robin Luttjohann

The service ended with words from Bishop Brian Greene of Pentecostal Tabernacle Church, and sining by Rabbi Mathis and the attendees of lines from the Torah.

The crowd held candles throughout the service, and people in nearby buildings watched from their apartment windows. People of every age, race, and religion, including many CRLS students, attended.

Senior Eloise Botka  said, “I think [the vigil] had a really good message because it brought a lot of people together from different faiths.”

Botka, along with many other attendees, was not surprised that the horrible shooting happened given the many other recent mass shootings. She said, “As a community, we have to protect people within the different groups that are being targeted with hate crimes and continue to show our support for them.”


This piece also appears in our November 2018 print edition