Metro Detroit Jewish groups hold vigil for Pittsburgh synagogue victims

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Detroit — They clutched candles, recited prayers and sang religious songs, comforted by the crowd as they processed the loss of the victims of a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

People join a vigil at Capitol Park in downtown Detroit on Monday to honor the victims of a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The vigil was one of many that will held by Jewish and interfaith groups across Metro Detroit this week.

"Until all of us are free, none of us are free," Rabbi Nate DeGroot told the group of some several hundred people during a vigil Monday night at Capitol Park.

The vigil was one of many that will held by Jewish and interfaith groups across Metro Detroit this week.

DeGroot, who is co-director of Hazon Detroit, said the reason for the vigil was three-fold. It was to honor the victims, support one another and for people to reconnect with their common humanity.

Hazon Detroit was one of a dozen groups that sponsored the vigil.

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Among those in attendance was Ruth Vosko, 95, of West Bloomfield.

Vosko said that, during her nearly century of life, she had never witness the type of hatred being shown today.

"My heart goes out to the families of the victims," she said, growing emotional.

Despite the horror, she said she was buoyed by the strong showing at the vigil. Such a response shows the purveyors of hate that the world will join together to oppose them, she said.

Another group that organized the event was Repair the World Detroit.

Its executive director, Sarah Allyn, echoed Vosko's comments about the beauty of joining together to fight hatred.

"We are a community that comes together," she said. "We will lift each other up."

Elsewhere in Detroit, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said such hatred will not be tolerated.

He said all federal law enforcement will stand vigilant against hatred or violence done in furtherance of a religious or political agenda.

"We will use all of our federal resources to investigate, prosecute and disrupt federal crimes based on hatred," he said in a statement.

Anyone with information about such crimes should contact their local police department, he said. Anyone with knowledge of such civil rights violations should contact the U.S. Attorney's Office at (313) 226-9151 or, he said.

In the Pittsburgh shooting, 11 people were killed and six injured.

The suspected gunman, Robert Bowers, told police he wanted to kill Jews. He was armed with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns, said the FBI.