…and Tuesday, We Vote!: Vigil for Tree of Life Synagogue

The feeling of sadness was palpable as people streamed into Mt. Zion Temple in St. Paul last night.

Linda and I arrived at 5:30 for the 6:00 vigil for the shooting victims of Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and parking was already filling up, both on and off the streets for blocks around.

We learned that all the available rooms in the building were being used as overflow spaces, and thankfully, Mt. Zion was set up in advance to livestream the service.

The lines outside were two blocks long, as people from all over the Twin Cities Metro came—to grieve, support, and experience the power of community in a situation in which many arrived feeling powerless.

Linda and I agreed, our days had been hard: sadness, inability to concentrate on work tasks—a typical grief response. We came to grieve, to support the Jewish community, and for hope.

“Thank you for being here,” said a Mt. Zion greeter from her wheelchair in the entry foyer.

It was not the last time we heard this greeting. This was a community that was reaching out instead of turning inward.

We were warned by several of the speakers that this is the goal of hate: to divide, to make people feel alone—and that community and reaching out in love that overcomes hate is the antidote to the isolation we may feel in the midst of what’s going on.

It was also important to stand, as Christian allies, WITH people of many faiths and AGAINST bigotry, fear, and hatred. I don’t often wear my clergy collar, but last night I did, in order to be visibly identified as a Christian faith leader standing with my siblings in faith and with people of moral conscience.

This morning we learned that the crowd was indeed big—nearly two thousand, by one news account.

I mused to myself, “If all these people’s power can be harnessed on November 6…”

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