Sun City gathering honors victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

The community surrounding Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City joined together Thursday evening to honor 11 people killed in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday. 

Temple Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Sheldon Moss said the temple, located on 101st Avenue a few blocks south of Grand Avenue, wanted to host a remembrance event for people in the northwest Valley who might not have been able to travel to other parts of the Phoenix area for similar events.

About 100 people gathered in a parking lot in front of Temple Beth Shalom where candles and prayer sheets as well as a copy of short biographies about the 11 people who lost their lives were passed out to those in attendance. 

Vigil goers not only heard from the Jewish temple’s leaders, but representatives of other faiths from the area who offered their support.

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During the vigil, candles were lit and the flame passed on to others holding candles.

Prayers were read in English and in Hebrew by those in attendance. At the end, vigil leaders offered a summary of who each of the 11 victims were in the Pittsburgh attack, 

“When these kinds of things happen, you just feel so alone and frightened, and the only solace is other people and how much they really do care,” Moss said. 

The temple community has come together in response to an act of hate before.

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On Dec. 24, 2016, which was the first night of Hanukkah, the temple’s menorah and Holocaust survivor memorial were vandalized.

Since that attack, an armed guard has been positioned at the temple’s entrance when services and other events are being held. President Donald Trump referred to having “protection” inside Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in remarks he made after last week’s attack.

But a Temple Beth Shalom official lamented the need for such a presence.

“I think it’s sad we need to do this. I think it’s sad we have to come to religious services and see an armed guard outside,” said Tammy Stojanovski, president for Temple Beth Shalom. “But I am also not willing to take the risk of our congregants getting hurt.”

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Congregants who attend the temple say they view the armed guard as more of a presence and believe if someone wanted to bring about harm, they would find a way. 

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