By Connor Beach
Hundreds of people of different faiths gathered Monday night at the Dix Hills Jewish Center to mourn and remember the 11 victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg on Saturday.
The solemn vigil mirrored thousands that took place around the country during which people of all faiths rejected and condemned the kind of anti-Semitism and hatred expressed by the lone gunman, Robert Bowers, who was captured alive after a shootout with police.
Rabbi Howard Buechler opened the ceremony and encouraged a sense of unity among all those who gathered in the house of worship.
“Tonight we stand together to seek comfort and to condemn hatred,” Buechler said. “Together we stand together representing a beautiful mosaic of diversity that is our community to teach our children never to be biased or bigoted, and never to let fear hold sway over your lives.”
Linda Beigel Schulman, of Dix Hills, whose son Scott Beigel died in February during the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, also gave an emotional speech during the rally.
“Living through the Parkland massacre once was enough for anyone, but reliving that again this past Saturday has brought back such a flood of emotion that I can not even begin to express my outrage,” Schulman said.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart told mourners that the Suffolk Police Department stood with them, and that police would increase patrols in and around houses of worship “into the foreseeable future.”
“It is critical to us that we do all we can as a police department to make sure that you feel safe as you join together to worship,” Hart said.To end the vigil, attendees joined together in solidarity and sang “God Bless America.”
Buechler said, “Tonight we might be standing in Dix Hills, but tonight we are all in Pittsburgh.”