Two vigils were held Thursday evening for victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, the same day the alleged suspect pleaded not guilty to killing 11 people last Saturday in Pittsburgh.
One of the vigils was held in downtown Harrisburg at Pine Street Presbyterian Church.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse’s interfaith advisory council hosted the event. It was attended by several hundred people from various religious backgrounds.
“Whoever kills a soul unjustly, it is as he had killed mankind entirely,” said Muslim community representative Aaysha Noor.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in the world. It is a malignancy within our society,” said Pine Street pastor Dr. Russell Sullivan.
“Our nation seems on the precipice of disaster,” said Papenfuse. “Hatred has been allowed to fester on our American soil.”
On the grounds of Shippensburg University, another vigil was organized by students.
“I am angry because I worry that the world isn’t paying enough attention,” said organizer Katherine Hargrove, who says as a Jewish person herself, she has experienced anti-Semitism firsthand.
She hopes though that simple acts of compassion, understanding and a collective condemnation of hate speech shine a much-needed light in the world.
“I can only hope that the vigils happening at Ship and the vigils happening across the state and across the country and across the world have a larger impact than [Robert Bowers’] actions,” she said.