Vigil held at U of M after Pittsburgh shooting

Service included speeches and candle lighting

A vigil was held at the U of M Investors Group Athletic Centre Thursday in remembrance of the lives lost in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last week.

The vigil was in response to a terrorist shooting last weekend at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 people were murdered. The service was open to the entire U of M community and included 11 candles lit in memory of the victims and a moment of silence.

U of M president David Barnard, along with students and faculty, spoke at the vigil.

“On behalf of the University of Manitoba community, I offer my deepest condolences to our Jewish students, faculty, staff, alumni and extended community,” Barnard said.

“I assure you that we are here to help share the burden of your grief, pain and fear. We stand with you.”

Barnard added the U of M was devoted to promoting values of tolerance and solidarity.

“As a place of higher learning, we are focused on scholarship, on the generation and passing on of knowledge and, I hope, a search for wisdom,” he said.

“Underpinning this broad idea is a shared perspective that working together – in community – is the best way to achieve this outcome.  What happened in Pittsburgh is a violation of all that we value.”

Barnard also read “The birthday of the world,” a poem by Jewish-American author Marge Piercy.

Speakers came from a variety of backgrounds, including Muslim Student Association external relations manager Qudus Abusaleh and U of M Judaic Studies program coordinator Haskel Greenfield.

Greenfield spoke on injustices faced by Jewish people both in the U.S. and in Canada, including within Winnipeg.

“In spite of all this, the Jewish community will survive, and will continue to thrive, and will continue to live proudly as Jews,” he said.

Greenfield spoke on how both the U of M community and broader groups must come together to speak out against racism and hatred.

“Let us use the time here together to create an environment that promotes tolerance and understanding,” he said.

“To express the horror that we feel about what transpired at the [Tree of Life] synagogue this past weekend, to unequivocally denounce the people who carry out a worldview that promotes hatred, intolerance and violence against the Jewish and all other peoples.

“We must work together in order to create a more positive, safe and equal future for all.”