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Santa Monica College Holds Prayer Vigil for Victims of Synagogue Massacre


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October 30, 2018 -- More than 200 Santa Monica College students and staff gathered on the school's main campus Tuesday for an interfaith prayer vigil and service honoring the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre.

The 11 victims were gunned down Saturday morning in the house of worship in Pittsburhg in what is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in US history.

“I was stunned that, yet again, another community had been targeted by another senseless act of hatred, bigotry, and careless disregard for human life,” said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery.

“We have so much work to do to bridge divides of all kinds," Jeffery said. "However, I am convinced [that] the task, though daunting, is doable. We are together in this world we share.”

SMC prayer vigil
SMC Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Tuitasi writes a message (Courtesy Santa Monica College)

The event was organized by Associated Students (AS) of Santa Monica College along with the SMC Chabad Club and the SMC Office of Student Life.

Participants in the vigil included Rabbi Eli Levitansky of Chabad of Santa Monica; the Rev. Eric Shafer, senior pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church; SMC student Mustafa Abdulla Seth of the Muslim Student Association, and Ira Roohani of the Santa Monica Baha’i Center.

The participants shared "messages of solidarity -- derived mostly from the scripture of their respective faiths -- against hate, and speaking of love, comfort and peace," college officials said.

AS President Isabel Rodriguez read the names of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims and led the crowd in a moment of silence.

The victims included a doctor who treated HIV patients in the 1980s, a 97-year-old, two brothers, a new grandfather, a youth baseball coach and a dentist who volunteered at free clinics.

The service also honored the memory of the two victims who lost their lives in a Kroger grocery store shooting in Jefferson, Kentucky on October 24, Rodriguez said.

Rabbi Levitansky led the student and campus leaders in a ceremonial lighting of candles in memory of the victims.

Those who attended wwere given the opportunity to write a messages intended to "spread the light," organizers said.

The messages were pinned on the “Wall of Goodness and Kindness.”

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