Despite heavy downpours and traffic-filled streets, Londoners came in droves to support a vigil dedicated to those impacted by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
Executive director for Jewish London, Joe Roberts, estimates that nearly 1,000 people made their way to the London Jewish Community Centre on Thursday evening.
“It was so powerful to see that many people in the room,” said Roberts.
“I’m a new Londoner… I’m proud of what happened here today. I think that this community has made a really wonderful home for me and for the Jewish community, as well.”
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow was one of more than a dozen speakers during Thursday’s vigil.
Gurkow told 980 CFPL that now, more than ever, those in the Jewish community need to remain strong in their faith.
“The message that [Robert Bowers] tried to convey… was all Jews must die,” said Gurkow.
“If we continue to live, but we hide our Judaism… his wish and the hater’s dream wins.”
For Margaret Whitley, a Londoner who attended to vigil to show support for the Jewish community, a focal point of the evening was seeing people from all faiths come together.
Whitley recalls a moment during the vigil when Rabbi Debra Dressler asked those who were not Jewish to stand up, prior to reciting a prayer for the crowd.
“It affected me deeply to know that more than half the people here were not Jewish. They were here in solidarity to support our Jewish brothers and sisters,” said Whitley.
“It didn’t matter what faith any of us came from.”
London was joined by a number of Canadian cities holding vigils in the week following the massacre in Pittsburgh.
On Thursday, the suspect in the synagogue shooting pleaded not guilty in federal court to all 44 counts against him.
Robert Bowers has been charged with killing 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighbourhood, along with other hate crime and firearm-related offences.
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