By: Shai Yastrab | News  | 

YU Community Hosts Vigil for Pittsburgh Massacre

On Oct. 29, the YU community held a vigil to honor those lost in the attack in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. The vigil was organized by the student councils, led by Yeshiva Student Union (YSU) and Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC), and was held on the 185th Street Plaza on the Wilf Campus. The attendees formed a circle, and while the majority of the crowd was made up of students, many members of the Washington Heights community also attended. The vigil began at 9:30 p.m. with music by Tani Polansky.

Polansky played for about ten minutes before YSU President Nolan Edmonson formally began the vigil. Edmonson spoke about the tragedy, talked about the importance of having a vigil at YU and introduced President Ari Berman. Berman talked about the importance of coming together and being united in the troubling times, as well as the importance of appreciating the response across the country. Torah Activites Council (TAC) President Adina Cohen, SCWSC President Shoshana Marder and Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) President Moshe Spirn then led the group in a recitation of Tehillim for the people lost in the attack.

A number of the speakers from outside of the university, all introduced by Edmonson, proceeded to speak, continuing on the theme of unity. City Councilmember Mark Levine spoke about how xenophobia is still alive today everywhere, and that other peoples and cultures stand with the Jews today. Congressman Adriano Espaillat spoke about the importance of both personal and spiritual faith, and how unity strengthens communities and people. State Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa spoke about praying for those lost in the attack. Senator-elect Robert Jackson told the crowd that even though people are shot and killed every day, being killed because of one’s ethnicity or religion is always unacceptable. City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez spoke about how important it is to build a society of love and invoked the long history between Dominicans and Jews.

After the speakers, eleven candles were lit to more music played by Tani Polansky to commemorate the people who lost their lives in the attack. Beren Campus Av Bayit Rabbi Yisroel Meir Rozensweig led a mi sheberach at the end of the vigil. After it ended the circle closed. Students thanked both the speakers and the Washington Heights community members for coming and showing solidarity.

Students who attended were deeply moved by the ceremony. Tzvi Moshe Wagman (SSSB ‘20) said that he “felt a profound sense of unity while looking around at the different types of people present.”

“The vigil was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had,” said Max Gruber (SSSB ‘20). “Being in a place where Jews and their neighbors truly care for one another is something to cherish.”

Photo Caption: Students Gather for Vigil on the 185th Street Plaza
Photo Credit: YU News