Thunder Bay

'Same religion and culture': Thunder Bay synagogue holds vigil for Pittsburgh shooting victims

The Shaarey Shomayim Synagogue in Thunder Bay is holding a public vigil Saturday as an opportunity for people to "take a stand against violence and hatred," and as an opportunity to show solidarity with the victims of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, said executive member Marianna Khabad.

Saturday night service is opportunity to 'take a stand against violence and hatred,' says executive member

The Shaarey Shomayim Synagogue in Thunder Bay, Ont., is holding a public vigil Saturday night to honour the victims of the October 27 shooting in Pittsburgh and to "take a stand against violence and hatred," said executive member Marianna Khabad. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

The Shaarey Shomayim Synagogue in Thunder Bay is holding a public vigil Saturday as an opportunity for people to "take a stand against violence and hatred," said executive member Marianna Khabad.

The Jewish community in the northwestern Ontario city is quite small, but people still felt the impact of the October 27 shooting in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which killed 11 and injured six.

"I think it's important to show solidarity. There's not many of us, however we share the same religion and culture," said Khabad.

She is surprised these tragedies are still possible in North America in 2018, but also believes the number of hate crimes has increased in recent years.

On the same day as the shooting in Pittsburgh, two African-Americans were gunned down in a Kentucky grocery store. 

Their deaths may be addressed as hate crimes toward the end of the court process.

Crimes based on 'hate for religion or skin colour'

"It just makes me sad to hear about all those events, hate crimes based on nothing but lack of knowledge and hate for the religion or skin colour."

Khabad said that's why Saturday's service is also an opportunity to raise awareness about, and to celebrate the diversity of communities that exist in Thunder Bay.

"The world is a big place. Many people have different cultures and different religions and the reason we practice a different religion is not a reason to kill anybody or hate anybody and there is diversity even in the small communities, not just in the big cities," she said.

Similar service held after Quebec City mosque shootings

Members of the synagogue attended a similar service at the mosque in Thunder Bay, following the shooting in January 2017 at a Quebec City mosque, which left six people dead and another six injured. 

Khabad said invitations to attend the vigil have been extended to city's multicultural centre, to the Muslim community through the Imam, and to the Christian community through a Lutheran minister.

The service, which begins at 6 p.m. on November 3 at the synagogue on Grey Street, will include traditional mourners' Kaddish prayers.

The executive noted that Thunder Bay police are aware of the event.

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