Hundreds of people came together last Tuesday evening at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center to honor the 11 lives lost in a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. 

Students from the University of Richmond and Virginia Union University joined the Richmond community that evening. With a powerful sense of unity, they stood in solidarity with the Pittsburgh community and the families who have been affected by the act of antisemitism. Throughout the night, community leaders delivered strong messages of support, love and unity as a response to the tragic shooting. 

“I hope everyone who has lost a loved one to see all the people in Richmond and across the country who have come out in support of them, of their families, of Jews everywhere,” junior Eliana Fleischer said. “We can only heal from this. There is not much we can do. I wish there was more.” 

As a response to the shooting in Pittsburgh, Farah Salman, a Richmond community member, said that as a Muslim, she felt as if it was her duty to stand up for such injustice. 

"If I feel the pain of Muslims around the country right now, then I must also feel the pain of Jewish people," Salman said. "Whether it is a mosque, a synagogue or a church, these places are sacred, and we should never tolerate this kind of hatred.” 

At the beginning of the evening, the voice of Ellen Renee Adams, the president of the Jewish Community Federation, echoed as everyone stood in silence. 

“We join together with our Jewish family, and we gain strength from our broader family, joined by our Christian, Muslim, and friends of all faiths, because tonight we are not Jews," Adams said. "We are not Muslims. We are not Catholic or Baptists. Tonight we are one family, leaning on and supporting each other.”  

Attacks such as the shooting in Pittsburgh should not happen to anyone, at any time, in any place, Adams said. 

"These attacks have become all too familiar," she added. "Antisemitism is increasing locally, nationally and worldwide. We will not tolerate these crimes of hate. We will stand together and stand strong.”

As the night continued, speakers of different backgrounds and ethnicities sent their condolences to all Jews across the nation. Corey Walker, vice president, dean and professor of religion and society at Virginia Union University reminded the crowd of Douglass’ words to encourage unity and to show support.

The Imam at the Islamic Center of Virginia shared his sorrow as he expressed that it is one’s duty as part of society to protect each others’ faiths and each other. If we save the life of one person, we save all, and if we lose a life of one human being, a whole world is lost, he said. 

The first lady of Virginia, Pamela Northam, joined the community on Tuesday evening to stand in unity with every Jewish family.

“As we wrestle with our grief, we must continue to reject bigotry, racism," Northam said. "To seek peace and reconciliation. Hate has no place here. We have so much more in common than what divides us. Let us turn our grief into advocacy. Speak out. Be informed. Get involved."  

I know it may be dark now, but I see the golden threads of love shining through here tonight.” 

Contact news writer Sana Azem at sana.mouaydazem@richmond.edu.