In the shadow of the New England Holocaust Memorial, hundreds gathered in Boston Thursday evening for candlelight vigil to denounce racist violence and mourn the 11 lives lost in Saturday’s mass shooting in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Several carried signs saying, “We ALL Belong Here,” while others waved flags and held banners. Many wiped tears away from their eyes.
“A pit fills my whole heart,” said Naomi Fireman, a former resident of the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting took place.
“Knowing this happened in Pittsburgh terrifies me, because now I know it can happen anywhere,” Fireman, who works in Boston, told the crowd.
Dozens of candles were lit, and Rabbi Leora Ableson, of the Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, read the names of the victims of the synagogue shooting. She also read the names of two African Americans killed last week in a racially-motivated shooting in Kentucky and three Palestinian boys killed Sunday in an Israeli airstrike.
A moment of silence was held for the victims.
“The Torah teaches that every human soul is a divine light,” Ableson told the crowd. “We light candles tonight to honor the lives and to mourn the deaths of those we lost last week to white supremacy.”
The vigil was organized by several organizations, including the Boston Workmen’s Circle Center for Jewish Culture and Social Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace in Boston, the Moishe Kavod community, and IfNotNow, an American Jewish progressive group.
Susan Etscovitz, 73, a member at Jewish Voice for Peace, said, as a Jewish woman, Saturday’s shooting “felt very, very painful -- very personal.”
“I am extremely upset about the hate that has taken over this land, the world,” she said.
Matteo Cox, 30, a member of Temple Beth David of the South Shore in Canton, spoke at the vigil. Identifying himself as a Paraguayan immigrant and a transgender man, he said, “This is not a fight I can do alone.”
“I’m here to be visible in the fight,” Cox said. “It’s not just Pittsburgh. It’s the entire Jewish community aching from this.”
Jackson Cote can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.