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Governor Wolf Remarks at York Vigil for Pittsburgh Shooting Victims
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Governor Tom Wolf made the following remarks on Monday evening at a vigil in York honoring those affected by the Pittsburgh shooting:
“I am so proud of all the York Countians that have gathered here tonight. I am so sad for the reason that has brought us together. Because, on Saturday morning in a quiet leafy neighborhood in Pittsburgh, a hateful man entered a synagogue and brutally and methodically murdered 11 worshippers.”
“These worshippers were murdered for no other reason than who they were, the religion they professed, and the God they worshipped.”
“It was a despicable and cowardly act of anti-Semitism that has no place in our society. It was an act that was fundamentally at odds with who we are: who we are as Pennsylvanians, who we are as Americans, and who we are as human beings.”
“So, tonight all of us here in York County mourn for the victims, we mourn for their families, we mourn for their friends, we mourn for their neighbors, we mourn for ourselves. We feel great sadness. We feel great shame as a result of what one human being did to innocent victims in that tragedy in Pittsburgh.”
“Let us, therefore, resolve that this heinous act of bigotry will not define who we are, nor will it define how we treat each other.”
“We must recognize our common humanity as we live our lives.”
“We must celebrate that common humanity while we rejoice in the distinctions that enrich our lives, enrich our communities, enrich our families.”
“The events in Pittsburgh remind us of the fragile nature of life. These events remind us that we have a responsibility to each other in guarding that fragile life. These events in Pittsburgh remind us how much we truly depend on each other.”
“The first responders, for example, who rushed in to help the victims. The friends and neighbors who reached out to help, and to all of us who mourn. The people from all over the world who reached out to offer solace and comfort.”
“But in the end, we must all face up to the ugly truth about what happened in Pittsburgh. The anti-Semitic attack in that synagogue was an attack on each and every one of us. It was an attack on our humanity, it was an attack on our values, it was an attack on who we think we are. It was an attack of our very being.”
“So, let us use that hateful attack in Pittsburgh to reaffirm our deep and abiding commitment to the simple notion of respect, and let us resolve that the evil forces that propelled that attack have no place in our lives, in our families, in our communities, in our institutions, ever.”
Funeral Arrangements Made for the Victims of Pittsburgh Shooting
The first funeral for the Pittsburgh shooting victims began on Tuesday, October 30.
The Rosenthal brothers both had learning disabilities and lived in a community home managed by ACHIEVA. They had been attending the synagogue since childhood.
The Other Victims
Fienberg was a research specialist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center from 1983 until her retirement in 2008, where her work focused on classroom-based research projects.
Gottfried was a dentist who worked with his wife, Peg Durachko, at the Squirrel Hill Medical Center’s dental clinic, where they provided dental care to refugees and immigrants. They also volunteered at the Catholic Charities free dental clinic.
Ms. Mallinger was the oldest of the victims, at 97 years of age, who was known for her dedication to her children and grandchildren.
Dr. Rabinowitz was a family physician who also served as the personal physician for former Deputy District Attorney Law Claus for three decades.
The Simons were a married couple with four children and six grandchildren. Sylvan was a retired accountant and Bernice a former nurse who also devoted time to charitable work.
Stein had served in various leadership positions, including the president, of the New Light Congregation, a conservative Jewish synagogue which holds services at the Tree of Life. He was also a former little league coach.
Wax was a retired accountant who was a regular attendee at the Tree of Life. He was leading Shabbat services in the basement when the shooting occurred.
Younger was a regular volunteer at the Tree of Life who was also known in the local community as a former small business owner and youth baseball coach.
Pittsburgh Mourns Victims
An estimated 2,500 mourners packed the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh on Sunday, October 28, while thousands more stood outside, for an interfaith gathering and vigil held by the Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh for the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday.
Speakers at the event ranged from Jeffrey H. Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and Mayor Bill Peduto, to Naftali Bennett, the minister of diaspora affairs for the state of Israel and Wasi Mohamed from the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
Additional vigils, in mourning and solidarity, were held in numerous other cities across the country on Sunday, from Boston, Atlanta, and Memphis, to Austin, Portland, and Los Angeles.
Funds for the Tree of Life Synagogue, both for the physical damages to the building as well as for the survivors and the victims’ families, have been raised in a number of places, though the widely shared GoFundMe campaign, which had raised nearly $800,000.00 by early Tuesday morning, is one of the most prominent. The nonprofits Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change also created a crowdfunding campaign for the Tree of Life synagogue victims on LaunchGood, a Muslim crowdsourcing site, which had raised over $170,000.00 by early Tuesday morning.
The gunman -46-year-old Robert Bowers – accused in the murder of eleven congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill stood for a federal hearing in Pittsburgh on Monday morning.
According to a published article on CBS News, Bowers waived a reading of the criminal complaint against him in the packed courtroom, paring down the hearing to just ten minutes.
Following the hearing, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady told reporters that Bowers would be detained without bond.
Bowers is scheduled to stand for another hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 1.
U.S. Attorney Scott Brady has already indicated that federal prosecutors are seeking approval to pursue the death penalty against Bowers, who is charged in a 29-count federal criminal complaint, 22 counts of which are punishable by death.
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