Nova Scotia

Vigil held in Halifax for 11 dead in synagogue massacre

A vigil was held in Halifax on Sunday following the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead on Saturday.

'We will rise above it and will live boldly and we will be Jews,' rabbi says

People gathered at a Halifax synagogue on Sunday for a vigil in honour of the victims of a mass shooting Saturday in Pittsburgh.

A vigil was held in Halifax on Sunday following the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead and six injured on Saturday.

Organizers said they, like so many others, are outraged, heartbroken and deeply saddened by the massacre.

The suspect in Saturday's mass shooting expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and told officers afterward that Jews were committing genocide and he wanted them all to die, according to charging documents made public this morning.

Robert Gregory Bowers killed eight men and three women inside the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday during worship services before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him, police allege in an affidavit. Bowers required surgery.

More than 150 people attended the Halifax vigil hosted by the Atlantic Jewish Council at the Shaar Shalom Synagogue on Oxford Street.

Community anxious but unafraid

Rabbi Jonah Rank said his community is anxious, but not afraid. 

Rank said he's observed a rise in anti-Semitic attacks and threats in recent years.

"Anti-Semitism is not something that just stops after one incident or starts with one incident, but it's something that goes on and something that Jewish people will likely face for the rest of our history," said Rank.

"And we will continue, we will rise above it and will live boldly and we will be Jews. There is no other way to go forward than to be proud of who we are."

Rank said there's been an outpouring of support for the Jewish community. 

He's been in touch with Halifax police, who have said they will increase surveillance in the area.

'Police have bolstered its presence'

Police across Canada have heightened their presence near Jewish facilities, said the Jewish Federations of Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in a statement on Saturday. 

"While there is no information whatsoever to suggest an elevated threat to Jewish communities in Canada, we have confirmed that police have bolstered its presence.

"The rise of antisemitism, the world's oldest form of hate, remains a serious concern. It is particularly egregious that this vile act of antisemitism targeted Jews while at prayer on the Sabbath.

"Our community is resilient."

Supporters from the broader community also gathered at the vigil to show their support, including the rector of the parish of St. Peter's Anglican church in Birch Cove.

Broader community mourns

Elliott Siteman said his parishioners are heartbroken that the worshippers were killed in an act of hate.

"They are not alone. We are here to stand against hate and against all these forms of violence and they should not be the norm."

Bowers, 46, has been charged with 30 state crimes and 29 federal counts, including hate crimes.

He had a licence to carry firearms and legally owned his guns, according to law enforcement officials.

Little was known about Bowers, who apparently had no criminal record but who is believed to have expressed anti-Semitic views on social media.

The shooting is being called the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

With files from the Associated Press and Marina von Stackelberg 

About the Author

Mairin Prentiss is a reporter in Nova Scotia. Get in touch at mairin.prentiss@cbc.ca