Mourners hold vigils to honor Pittsburgh shooting victims

WASHINGTON — Local residents gathered at vigils throughout the District on Sunday to honor the 11 victims of Saturday’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

A diverse group of mourners gathered outside the White House gates in Lafayette Square, humming a wordless melody that one attendee said was “for times when words fail us.”

The gathering was a call for solidarity for “all people who are committed to a country that respects freedom and dignity,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. “We want everyone in and we want the bigotry out.”

A Jewish prayer service was held Sunday evening in DuPont Circle to honor the victims. Gatherers filled half circle on one side of the fountain, spilling onto the grass. The service included prayers, songs and a reading of each victims’ name.

Rabbi Joseph Berman, of the New Synagogue Project, said he thinks the shooting wasn’t the result of one hateful person.

“It is because there are people in positions of power who are spouting and fueling white nationalism and white supremacy, and they are egging people on,” Berman said.

Some gatherers used the prayer service as an opportunity to have a difficult discussion.

“My kids are too young to understand this,” said Hilary Klein, who brought her 3-year-old twins to the service. “I have been thinking a lot of, like, at what point do I talk to them about the Holocaust and our family tree that was wiped out in the Holocaust? But then these things continue today.”

The Pittsburgh shooting is believed to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.

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