University hosts prayer service to honor victims of Pittsburgh shooting
Claire Rafford | Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Students, faculty and members of the Notre Dame community gathered at Main Building on Tuesday at noon to pray for the 11 victims of Saturday’s shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Rabbi Karen Companez of Temple Beth-El in South Bend opened the service with a speech condemning the act of violence and calling for unity in this time of sadness.
“The wanton and brazen acts of violence that led to the senseless loss of innocent lives are unconscionable, unfathomable and completely unacceptable,” Companez said. “Somehow or another, they must stop.”
Rabbi Michael Friedland of Sinai Synagogue in South Bend then recited Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd,” in both Hebrew and in English.
Imam Mohammed Sirajuddin of the Islamic Society of Michiana delivered words of unity after the psalm recitation, mourning the acts of violence in a religious haven meant for peace and reflection, rather than assault and bloodshed.
“We grieve the loss of innocent lives in a place of worship,” Sirajuddin said. “A place of worship is a place of refuge and safety, not violence. We stand in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers in speaking out against anti-Semitism.”
Sirajuddin also spoke about how people should remember that every human life has intrinsic value that is stronger than prejudice and hate.
“Let us remember our greatest relationship is our shared humanity,” Sirajuddin said. “We are brothers and sisters from Adam and Eve. We have shared values and divine teachings to cherish the dignity of human life and to honor the dignity of human souls.”
After the speeches, Companez led a yahrzeit, or memorial candle lighting, in honor of the people who were killed. Each of the 11 candles, one for every victim, were lit by a different member of the Notre Dame community, including senior Jewish Club president Alicia Twisselmann, senior and student body vice president Corey Gayheart and University President Father John Jenkins. After the lighting, the community sang a recitation of Psalm 133, verse 1, in Hebrew.
In English, Psalm 133 reads, “How good it is and how beautiful, when we are all sitting together.”
Jenkins closed the service with a prayer for the souls of the deceased, asking God to protect their souls and praying for peace in the world.