Interfaith Vigil in Solidarity with the Jewish Community of Pittsburgh Rabbi Gluck’s Remarks

Posted on November 13, 2018 by Rabbi Arnold S. Gluck

Cantor Pincus was joined by Cantor Vadim Yucht and Cantor Anna Berman.

We gather tonight with hearts that are broken for the tragic loss of 11 precious souls, men and women who were murdered for the simple fact that they were Jews.

It was the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of our nation, but it was not an isolated event. It is only the latest in a rising tide of hate and anti-Semitism that threatens innocent lives of Jews, Muslims, people of color, immigrants, and all those who are labeled as “other.”

Our presence here tonight, your presence, makes a powerful statement. There is no “other.” There are no “others.” There is only “us,” brothers and sisters, human beings created in the image of God. Each and every one infinitely precious.

Jewish tradition teaches that “whoever destroys a single life has destroyed an entire world.” Each person murdered at Congregation Tree of Life in Pittsburgh was a world. They must not be reduced to numbers or statistics. They were a mother, a father, a beloved spouse, a sister, a brother, a friend. Each had a face, and each had a name:

Daniel Stein; Joyce Feinberg; Richard Gottfried; Rose Mallinger; Jerry Rabinowitz; the brothers Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal; husband and wife Bernice Simon and Sylvan Simon; Melvin Wax; and Irving Younger.

At the end of the service, the assembled crowd linked arms sing  “We will Build this World with Love.”

We grieve with their families, with their community, and with the entire human family for their loss. May God comfort all who are bereaved and heal all who are broken in body and spirit.

There is much that needs to be said about why this happened. About how words of hate breed to acts of violence. About how ordinary citizens, including unbalanced people, so easily obtain weapons of war. And about the need for our leaders to abandon the rhetoric of fear, division and demonization that turns minorities and vulnerable people into targets of those who hate.

But tonight, we gather as people of faith to pray for our brothers and sisters whom we’ve lost and for the survivors and their neighbors. We gather to pray for healing, for peace, and for hope. We gather to say that as people of faith, as proud Americans, we refuse to succumb to fear.

We are resilient people. We will mourn our losses, take steps to secure our communities, and join together to stand against hate in every form. The most powerful antidote to hate is love, so let love be our banner and our guiding light.

The Sikh community leaders read a moving prayer.

As people of faith we turn to God in prayer. Be with us, O God, in this dark time. Strengthen us and calm our fears. Send healing to the broken hearted, hope to those whose lives have been shattered, and consolation to the bereaved. Cause the light of Your love to shine upon us to heal our wounds and remind us of the goodness of Your world and the blessing of this life You have given us. In the face of evil remind us never to despair of human goodness. Open our hearts to feel Your presence among us and within us.

To You, O God, we turn in our time of need. Renew our hope, give us courage, and grant peace to us and all Your children. Amen.

Our vigil tonight will include prayers and songs for healing, hope, strength and peace from seven different religious traditions, words of solidarity from civic leaders, and a call to action to stand up for the other.

Speaking for the Jewish community, I want to express how much this outpouring of love and support means to us. Your presence here with us reminds us that God’s love makes us one human family and gives us hope that we will learn to live in peace and harmony.

Editor’s note: To view the vigil on Livestream, visit

Supporting Organizations

Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon & Warren Counties

Temple Beth-El, Hillsborough

Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

North Branch Reformed Church

Temple Sholom, Bridgewater

Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center

St. John’s Episcopal Church

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Bridgewater

Temple Beth El, Somerset

Bridgewater United Methodist Church

Christ Presbyterian Church, Martinsville

Family Worship Center

First United Methodist Church of Somerville

Flemington Jewish Community Center

Garden State Sikh Association, Somerset

Garden State Sikh Association, Bridgewater

Temple Har Shalom, Warren

Holocaust and Genocide Institute at Raritan Valley Community College

Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey, Washington Township

Jewish Family Service of Somerset, Hunterdon & Warren Counties

Congregation Kehilat Shalom, Belle Mead

Congregation Knesseth Israel, Bound Brook

Middlebush Reformed Church

Muslim Center of Somerset County

Or Chadash, Flemington

Oscar & Ella Wilf Campus For Senior Living

Refuge International

Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, Millstone

Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church, Bridgewater

Saint Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Hillsborough

Sathya Sai Center of Bridgewater

Shree Swaminarayan Mandir – Loyadham, Raritan

Somerset County Asian-American Association

Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition

Chabad Jewish Center of Greater Somerset County

Chabad Jewish Center of Southern Somerset County

Chabad Jewish Center of Hunterdon County

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

United Reformed Church, Somerville

St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church, Bernardsville

Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center, Boonton


Participating Civic Leaders:

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin

Senator Kip Bateman

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker

Assemblyman Roy Freiman

NJ Director of Homeland Security Jared Maples

Somerset County Freeholder/Director Patrick Scaglione

Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire

Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano

From Hillsborough Township

Mayor Gloria McCauley

Deputy Mayor Doug Tomson

Committeeman Frank DelCore

Chief of Police Darren Powell

Middle School Principal Joe Trybulski

From Montgomery Township

Councilwoman Sadaf Jaffer

Councilwoman Patricia Graham

Somerville Council President Granville Brady

Bound Brook Mayor Robert Fazen

Princeton Councilman David Cohen


Originally published in the November-December 2018 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.