Metro Detroit religious leaders show solidarity after synagogue attack
West Bloomfield — One week after a deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, community leaders from Metro Detroit and around the nation gathered Saturday during Shabbat to condemn the heinous attack.
Catholics, Christians and Muslim religious leaders stood with Rabbi Michael Moskowitz as he led an interfaith prayer at the Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield.
Moskowitz said an attack on any synagogue is an attack on Jews and Judaism itself. He opened with a passage from the Torah called the "Life of Sarah," a reminder, he said, of what the community needs.
"It's titled her life but opens up with her death," Moskowitz said during a service that lasted more than two hours. "The lesson teaches us that at the moment of death, the sorrow and grief fill our lives, but we shouldn't focus only on death. We should focus on life and its blessings."
Attendees mourned for the 11 people gunned down on Oct. 27 just as Shabbat services got underway at the Tree of Life synagogue and sent prayers to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh.
"We mourn now and think of our loved ones and their legacies," Moskowitz said. "But let this be the wake up call that we hit the snooze button on so many times before. Let us stand up to hatred in all forms whether it be to the person in line or the president."
Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron, Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn Heights, Pastor Robert McClory of the Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak and Pastor Bruce Burwell of Light of the World Christian Ministries participated during the Shabbat of Solidarity.
"All of us, here, stand in solidarity against the unspeakable horror occurred at the synagog last week," Vigneron said to the congregation before leading a prayer. "This act reminds us the evil of anti-semitism is alive ... We feel your loss and stand with you from hatred and defend against violence and aggression."
Qazwini condemned the attack and said, "Attacking any place of worship is an attack on all places of worship."
"I'm here today to tell you that the Muslim community stands with you and we Muslims, particularly, share your pain," Qazwini said. "Unfortunately, there are people out there that are Islamophobic and focused on spreading hate towards Islam... If we lose a house of worship, if it gets demolished, it is easy to rebuild, but it will be impossible to restore the lives of those who perished."
#ShowUpForShabbat was trending on Twitter Saturday morning, as thousands stood in solidarity with the victims.
"A beautiful service and know we can't leave, take these good feelings and do nothing," said Amy Saperstein, of Farmington Hills. "We have to be kinder to one another, vote and place people with our priorities to make a difference, too."
While the interfaith service was held, three congregations attacked at the Pittsburgh synagogue also gathered for a joint service Saturday with an outdoor "healing service."
"It is a tragedy and all people of all faiths need to show our solidarity to prevent this from happening again," said Afroz Khan, a Muslim from Farmington Hills, who was thanked by peers for attending the Shabbat.
The suspect gunman, Robert Bowers, 46, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges that could result in a death sentence.
Authorities say Bowers raged against Jews during and after the massacre. He remains jailed without bail, according to an Associated Press report.