Under a cloud of grief, an aura of hope and unity prevailed at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Sunday night.
In its first Hanukkah ceremony since 11 congregants were gunned down at the Pittsburgh synagogue, a diverse crowd gathered to worship and show their support for the Jewish community.
This Hanukkah will be “unforgettable,” said Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of the New Light Congregation, which worships at the synagogue. He told those gathered for the menorah-lighting event about the “terrible tragedy that occurred here at this building.”
The eleven victims were killed October 27 when a gunman made anti-Semitic comments while opening fire on the congregation, a law enforcement official said. Suspect Robert Bowers has pleaded not guilty to 44 federal charges.
Simcha and Chaya Teich came all the way from Brooklyn, New York, to support the synagogue on Sunday.
“It’s very nice to see all the different parts of the community band together and celebrate a Jewish holiday we all have in common,” Chaya Teich told CNN affiliate KDKA.
Simcha Teich noted the symbolism of the branches of the synagogue’s menorah.
“We can take a lesson that this is the Tree of Life Synagogue and the Menorah, significantly, has its branches that branch outwards, not inwards,” he told KDKA.
“And so too the light of the Tree of Life is just like the Menorah where it branches outwards and it spreads its lights onto the people that flock to it.”
Pittsburgh police Detective Sgt. James Glick was selected to light the candle Sunday night on behalf of Pittsburgh police. He was assisted by survivors of the mass shooting.