Prayer service for Pittsburgh shooting victims held in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Religious communities across South Florida are coming together to remember the lives lost in the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The massacre, which claimed 11 lives Saturday morning, has left the local Jewish community devastated.

“We’re so sad and grieving for what they are going through,” said churchgoer Cindy Black.

Sunday night, religious leaders and the community came together for a prayer service at Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale, hoping to ease the pain and pray away the hate.

“We are in this together. There’s hope, there’s going to be unity, and we are going to work together to shine light and positivity and possibility in this time,” said Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen, who is also a pastor.

Among those in attendance was U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is of the Jewish faith.

“My heart absolutely is torn apart,” she said.

The congresswoman experienced her own danger this past week, when her name and Sunrise office address were written on each of the pipe bombs that, police said, Cesar Sayoc, a South Florida local, mailed to 13 different high-level politicians and Democratic supporters.

“It’s hard to wrap your mind around when, if ever, this will come to an end,” said Wasserman Schultz.

Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, who lives in South Florida but is originally from Pittsburgh, said his parents were supposed to be at Tree of Life Congregation, the synagogue where the shooting took place.

“This particular Sabbath morning, my mother wasn’t feeling well and asked my father to stay home from synagogue, but otherwise he would have been there,” he said during a phone interview with 7News.

Back in South Florida, local leaders like Carol Brick-Turin with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation said that although their faith was rocked by tragedy, their current main focus is to restore the faith and stop the fear.

“Prevention and preparedness through training is critical,” she said. “We are training on active shooter drills. We are training on what happens when you get an envelope, if there is a suspicious substance on the envelope. We have training on what to do when packages arrive.”

Two local prayer memorials are planned for this week, one at the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus at 9 p.m. on Monday and another at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

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