Community gathers for a vigil to remember victims of Pittsburgh shooting

By: Reporter staff

A standing room only crowd attended the October 29 vigil held for the victims of the October 27 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The auditorium and the meeting room of the Jewish Community Center were so full that Sima Auerbach, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton, had to ask those attending to move forward to make room for those waiting in the lobby to enter.
Auerbach facilitated the vigil, which featured clergy and civic leaders from across the Jewish and larger community. In her opening remarks, Auerbach noted that “my parents were immigrants. They first fled the pogroms of Russia and then Hitler. They came to America with difficulty.... But once here in America, they felt safe.” She mentioned that, after Pittsburgh, no one feels safe. Her call for those attending included the need for the community of Greater Binghamton to show that it “welcomes the stranger – the immigrant – our community of love and respect and kindness... is stronger than hate.”
The ceremony opened with a candle lighting in memory of those who died. Candles were lit by Sandy and Dennis Foreman, and Richard Orringer, local community members originally from the Pittsburgh area, and Binghamton University students Miriam and Sarah Pincus, in memory of Miriam’s bat mitzvah at Etz Chayim and Jerry Rabinowitz, their family doctor. Speakers (in order of appearance) included Rabbi Geoffrey Brown (Temple Israel), Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell (Temple Concord), Ori Karudo (student president of Chabad of Binghamton), Bradley Goldman (student president of Hillel of Binghamton), Father Tim Taugher (St. Francis of Assisi), Iman Anas Shaikh (Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier), Rev. Kimberly Chastain (United Presbyterian Church of Binghamton), Kymel Yard (vice president of the Broome-Tioga Chapter of the NAACP), Rabbi Marley Weiner (Hillel at Binghamton), Rabbi Rachel Esserman (The Reporter), Rabbi Aaron Slonim (Chabad of Binghamton) and Rabbi Zev Silber (Beth David Synagogue). Performing songs were Kaskeset, a Jewish a cappella group at BU, and Jan DeAngelo. 
The community joined in singing Debbie Friedman’s version of the Mishaberach, a prayer for physical and spiritual healing. The traditional prayer El Malei Rachamim, asking that the souls of the departed rest with God, was recited for the members of the Pittsburgh congregation who died: Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65: Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.
Auerbach concluded the evening by asking members of the community to “fill the synagogues in Binghamton and Vestal this coming Shabbos.” She also reminded people to “be kind and help someone. The Mishnah tells us, ‘he who saves a single life saves an entire world.’”