By Mary-Ellen Davis, News Editor
Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
Towson University community members gathered in Speakers Circle at a vigil last Monday to show their support and solidarity for the victims of the Pittsburgh Massacre that took the lives of 11 people in the Tree of Life Synagogue.
The vigil began with the lighting of candles that were handed out to students as they arrived at the circle. TU Hillel and Chabad House hosted the event.
Rabbi Mendi Rivkin led the candle lighting ceremony, addressing the challenges that come with meeting in times of tragedy.
“It’s always hard to come together in difficult times like this,” Rivkin said. “But sometimes, it requires a difficult time for us to make a difference.”
The students lit their candles, beginning from one flame, because it symbolizes the strength that can be found through leaning against one another.
“The candle has three properties,” Rivkin said. “One is that we lean on each other, the candle flickers and one candle can become many. The last thing a candle brings to the table, is a candle chases away darkness.”
As his speech became quicker and his voice louder, Rivkin told members of the Jewish community that they should look at the world as a balanced scale, saying that with every bad deed that weighs the scale one way, there are good ones move it the other way.
“The answer to hate, the answer to darkness, is to add more light,” Rivkin said.
Towson University President Kim Schatzel attended the event and closed the vigil by asking everyone to lock their arms together.
“We are the ones that stand against hate,” Schatzel said. “The attack on the Tree of Life congregation was just not an attack on that congregation, It was just not an attack on Jews, it was just not an attack on Pittsburgh, and it was an attack on all of us. And as only with all of us standing together with love against hate, that we will push it back.”
Josh Leckner, the president of the Jewish Fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, was pleased with how quickly the university responded to the attack on the Tree of Life, and the speed with which they put together the vigil.
“I was really happy to see a lot of people come out… but greek life came out and other organizations on campus,” said Leckner. “And I was very happy with the university on how quickly they acted in putting this together.”
Tzvi Herman, the Treasure of Alpha Epsilon Pi, was also happy with how quickly the event was organized, and said that he had been on the email chain that was created as the vigil was put together.
“It’s really good to see the Jewish community come together, especially in a time like this, a time when there is a reason to come together,” Herman said. “Nobody wants to come together like this, but to see the people who wouldn’t normally come out on any given day, to come out and lock arms and join together to commemorate what happens, was amazing. It’s all you can ask for.”
Schatel said she was happy with the amount of people who came out to show their support of the communities on campus.
“I thought that the vigil was just a showing of a sense of unity through the campus both for the campus community as well as the Jewish community on campus,” Schatzel said. “We all came together to support each other and to be able to show that there is no room for hate on this campus. We will love each other and bring that love forward against hate. It starts with us.”