Local leaders, religious community mourn victims killed in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

WESTON, FLA. (WSVN) - - Religious and political leaders were among the South Floridians who continued to come together in a show of solidarity to mourn the 11 victims killed in the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Monday night, mourners filled the Stanley & Marilyn Cohen Chabad Center in Weston to pay tribute to the lives lost Saturday at the Tree of Life Congregation.

“Eleven innocent Jews were murdered by a vicious anti-Semite,” said Rabbi Yisroel Spalter during the packed community-wide memorial prayer service.

Eleven candles burned in honor of the victims killed more than 1,100 miles away.

“His bullets were aimed not only at Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh and not only at every single American Jew but at every single American,” said Spalter.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., were also on hand at the somber service.

Weston was not the only city supporting the Steel City. Late Monday afternoon, Nova Southeastern University in Davie hosted a solidarity vigil on campus.

Mourners at the gathering, organized by Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach and Chabad at NSU, recognized the victims aloud.

“We read the names out loud as a conscious step toward never forgetting those we have lost,” said Or Greenwald from Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe for practicing their religion, and it is absolutely devastating that, in this day and age, we need to be fearful for our lives because of the religion that we practice,” said Shelby Kisliuk, 1L representative of the Jewish Law Student Association.

“It’s really disheartening to see what this country has come to and all the hatred, so I definitely wanted to come out and show support,” said NSU student Leah Aminov.

“We mourn the 11 holy souls who were so cruelly torn from our midst and pray to God almighty to provide strength and comfort to their shocked and grieving families,” said Rabbi Aryeh Schwartz from the Jewish Student Center at NSU.

Hours earlier, Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. joined religious leaders and others in a news conference at the Jewish Federation of Broward County, also in Davie.

Speaking with reporters, the leaders denounced anti-Semitism in the wake of the killings.

“Eleven [people] were murdered in a synagogue during prayer because they were Jews. They were murdered because they were Jews,” said Deutch.

“We will not stand for intolerance or hate or evil and that an attack on one of us, it can’t be said enough, is an attack on all of us,” said Wasserman Schultz.

For Deutch, Saturday’s mass shooting hits close to home.

“I grew up in a conservative synagogue in Pennsylvania, in a really tight-knit community. This is — this feels very, very personal,” he said.

Wasserman Schultz also mentioned other acts of violence that preceded the synagogue shooting, including how she and other high-profile Democrats were targeted by accused mail bomber Cesar Sayoc.

“It took police two days after a man was arrested for allegedly sending more than a dozen pipe bombs to CNN and several high-profile Trump critics, including my own office,” said Wasserman Schultz, wiping away tears. “Just days ago, another racist killer took two lives in a grocery store after failing to force his way into a black church. This must stop. It must stop. We all have a responsibility to turn the volume down.”

“Because there is so much hatred, because there has been so much that we have endured, I’m not sure that this has really sunk in,” said Deutch. “This is the worst, most violent, deadliest attack on the Jewish community in our nation’s history.’”

In Miami-Dade, a prayer memorial was held at the Chabad of Key Biscayne.

7News cameras captured a large crowd attending a candlelight memorial at the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus.

An interfaith memorial is scheduled to take place at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.