Brockport, N.Y. – Dozens gathered Tuesday night in Brockport to remember the victims of last weekend’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
11 people died in the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. Tuesday’s vigil was organized by Compassionate Brockport. Those who attended gathered around a memorial that contained 11 stones and 11 candles, one of each for the victims.
Organizers hoped the event would promote an atmosphere of compassion and demonstrate that hate does not have a place in the community.
“We don’t all think alike, we don’t all believe the same thing, but we have a lot in common,” said co-organizer Reverend Lori Staubitz. “We’re neighbors, we’re friends, we’re coworkers. We are Americans. We have a lot of people we are standing with who are oppressed or, obviously, are being targeted for hate crimes.”
“We all want to do something and you never can do big things, but all of us can do something little,” said co-organizer Karen LoBracco. “And so, this is our little something to say to our neighbors and the community that we care, every person is important, and we’re with you, we stand with you.”
For attendees Patty and Archie Kutz, Saturday’s shooting felt close to home.
“Our kids live in Pittsburgh. In fact, they live about a 10-15 minute walk from the synagogue, and their kids go to Hebrew school at a synagogue around the corner,” said. Ms. Kutz. “So we know the neighborhood well. We appreciate what an amazing place it is to live.”
While she believes we live in troubled times, Tuesday’s vigil gives her some hope.
“I think having something like this brings the whole community together and expresses our solidarity, what we have in common, rather than what we are opposed regarding,” she said. “That’s really important.”
The feeling of community unity is something Reverend Staubitz hopes stays with people.
“When people interact with someone who is other than themselves – other faith, other skin color, and you really have a dialogue or even just do something like this together, it breaks down those barriers,” she said. “You can’t demonize somebody that you’ve actually shared a candle with.”