Synagogue Massacre Memorial Service: ‘We Stand As One’

Rabbi David Freelund

HYANNIS – An interfaith service attracted hundreds of people from across Cape Cod Thursday night to reflect in prayer following the mass shooting Saturday at a Pittsburgh Synagogue.

Clergy members from across the religious spectrum participated in the gathering at the Cape Cod Synagogue in Hyannis.

“Words can’t express what it means to have you all here tonight,” said Rabbi David Freelund.

Eleven people were fatally gunned down last weekend in a hate-filled rampage.

The service included words of inspiration and songs of hope as the Cape Cod community came together to renounce the evil that resulted in the massacre.

“Here tonight we stand as one,” said Rabbi Freelund.

“Help Lord, Help us Lord to call out evil. Help us Lord to demand the truth,” said Cape Cod Council of Churches Executive Director Eddy Nesmith.

Rev. Libby Gibson of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Barnstable said there were no words that can even begin to capture the sorrow we feel as a community.

“The tears of so many in this nation are not only tears of solidarity, but also tears of outrage and indignation that drive us to demand that something happens,” Rev. Gibson said.

“Let the tears swell into tears of compassion so that there is no room for hate,” she said.

Dr. John Cox, president Cape Cod Community College talked about what it means to be accountable

“It’s about a realization that we are accountable from a moral, ethical and legal perspective for what’s going on around us,” Cox said, after referring to lessons from the Old Testament.

“We have to engage in a civil conversation…as we remember our brothers,” he said.

Cox reminded the gathering that “we all share a common lineage,” and we must do a better job to inspire unity.

Other speakers said it was critical for people to see each other as human beings and hoped that the tragedy would raise the conscious of the nation.

Robert Bowers, 46, is accused of killing 11 people and injuring six others, including four police officers at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.

Pastor Peter Hebert of the First Lutheran Church in Barnstable said the community must never forget so it can never happen again.

“It tells us that we have forgotten how this could ever be perpetrated on a people who have suffered so greatly,” said Pastor Hebert.

Rabbi Freelund said we may all be on a different path, but we are all heading in the same direction.

“As Americans, we are better than we have even been, but it’s not good enough,” he said.

“Don’t let this go unanswered,” he implored.

Rabbi Freelund previously said a stream of cards and flowers had come into the synagogue since Saturday.

Bowers pleaded not guilty earlier Thursday to federal charges that could end with the death penalty.

It was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States.

A 44-count indictment included murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion and other crimes.

“What can one say in the face of hate…we have reached another all-time low,” said Deacon David Akin of St. Pius Church in Yarmouth.

“We are one people, a community of people who must, must learn to love one another,” he said.

“Believe us when we tell you anti-semitism is the air and racism on the ground. Don’t let it go unchecked in the United States,” Rabbi Freelund said.

Congressman William Keating, Second Barnstable State Representative Will Crocker and other elected officials were also on hand at the service

Jewish, Muslim, Episcopal, Unitarian, Lutheran, Buddhist and Catholic religions were among the faiths represented at the ceremony.

The evening concluded with a rendition of the song “We Shall Overcome,” as the hundreds who gathered held hands in unity against hate.



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