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Community rallys against acts of hate and violence


Greensboro community members and faith leaders gathered at Temple Emanuel of Greensboro to provide a safe space to collectively express their sorrow for recent acts of violence and loss of lives that occurred at a Pittsburgh Pa. synagogue and at a Kentucky grocery store. Photo by Yasmine Regester

A rally against hate and violence brought thousands of people to Temple Emanuel on the evening of October 30.

Held in the temple’s main sanctuary, people sat in the aisles, overflowed into the lobby and other adjacent rooms, joining hands during an outpouring of song, prayer and uplifting messages.

“Today we must ask ourselves how can we as people of faith come together to comfort one another and to strengthen the ties of caring and community,” said Rabbi Joshua Ben Gideon from Beth David Synagogue during the ceremony that attracted an estimated 2,000 people.

The event recognized the 11 lives taken in a hate-fueled shooting spree at a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27. Authorities say Robert Bowers, 46, killed 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the affluent Squirrel Hill neighborhood during a 20 minute attack on the morning of October 27.

Those killed were Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal 54; husband and wife Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.

Rally participants recited the names of the worshippers killed and also included the names of others who have been recent victims of hate crimes across the country. Speakers also recognized the car attack on protestors in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017 that killed Heather Heyer, and the nine parishioners who were gunned down at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (S.C.) in 2015.

Rabbi Fred Guttman noted that the event was also about bringing people of different faiths together to unite against hate and violence.

“The religious community is saying let’s come together and work together towards justice, compassion and peace,” said Guttman. “It is amazing to see all the different faiths come together to show dignity and respect for all human beings.”

Statements of solidarity were also presented by the Greensboro Interfaith Clergy Association, remarks from Rev. Nelson Johnson of Beloved Community Center, Rev. Lee Hull of First Christian Church, Wasif Kureishi of the Islamic Center of Greensboro and from leaders representing Buddhist and Hindu religions.

N.C. NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman noted that the African American community has seen senseless acts of violence like this far too often.

“At the N.C. NAACP, we are well aware of the viciousness and legacy of hate and know that this hate has no boundaries and poses a dire threat to all of us. Throughout our history, we have mourned the senseless killings of our leaders, children and attacks upon houses of worship within our communities,” Spearman said.

Organizations from across the country have also released statements condemning the violence that took place and encouraging unity among people.

Jerry Silverman, President & CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), and Mark Wilf, Chair of the Board of JFNA issued a statement that in part said, “Hatred and vitriol must have no quarter in any aspect of our country, for they not only contravene the sacred promise of America; they violate the moral and ethical core of our society. We must use this opportunity to unite our cities, states and nation to ensure that no such tragedies recur in any community of any persuasion. We must tap our outrage to effectuate positive change and safeguards, letting our officials know that we stand ready to work with them to make it so.”

This year’s National Jewish Solidarity Sabbath is on Friday, Nov. 2, at 6:30 p.m. at 713 N. Greene St. in Greensboro.