Tears, Prayers and Hope Highlight Vigil for Jewish Community
Their hugs were tight, and their words were often soft and tearful.
Still, those who gathered on a windy night on Kent State University’s Risman Plaza on Oct. 29 came together to not only reflect on the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh but to also lift one another up during a time that has shaken many while taking a deep, emotional toll.
Many said they just needed to be together on this night.
In all, about 125 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered with candles and songs to remember the 11 victims gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Among those in attendance was a student who said he grew up one mile from the synagogue. Another told the crowd her family’s closest friends live in the same Squirrel Hill neighborhood, slightly more than 100 mile away from the Kent Campus.
Rabbi Moshe Sasonkin of Chabad at Kent State and Rabbi Michael Ross of Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson guided the group in prayers and reflections during the 45-minute service, which included sunshine peeking through the clouds as if on cue to illuminate and lift up the somber faces of those in the crowd.
The event was organized by Hillel at Kent State, which serves Jewish students.
Student speakers included Hillel Student Board president Lauren Novick, president of Students Supporting Israel Lily Richman and Ezra Katz, president of Alpha Epsilon Phi.
"No matter how many times evil tries to destroy us, we will become stronger and respond with love when in the light of hate,” Ms. Novick says. “As Jews, we are taught to combat hatred of people just because of who they are with loving people, regardless of who they are. The love and support our community feels from each and every one of you gives us hope.”
Kent State President Beverly J. Warren was in the crowd and comforted students and others at the end of the service.
"Your presence tonight tells me that along with the sorrow and reflection in our own hearts, you long for a future where we can be respectful and kind in all we do,” says Shay Little, Kent State’s vice president for student affairs. “It has never been more important to build commonalities amongst our differences. It has never been more important to live an exclusive inclusiveness in our communities.”