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Thousands in Seattle attend community vigil for Pittsburgh shooting victims

Thousands attended a community vigil for Pittsburgh on Monday night at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle. Over the weekend, 11 people were killed in a shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue.

It was an evening of grief and community. People leaned on each other’s shoulders and sang along with the prayers and music.

It was also an evening of calls to action. Rabbi Will Berkovitz, of the nonprofit Jewish Family Services, told the audience they must decide whether to be bystanders to history.

“We must stop accepting the illusion that this is the view of a few troubled individuals," Berkovitz said. "It is not. Something larger is happening, and it is now upon us to respond."

Priests, rabbis, refugees and politicians all spoke. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made an appearance, then gave his speech a second time to the overflow crowd of more than a thousand people who stood outside the synagogue.

After the service, the vigil attendees joined the crowd in the street.

“It was good,” Ellen Kissmet said of the vigil as she walked. Then she paused. It was hard, she said. She had recently lost her father, a Holocaust survivor.

“I'm already deeply grieving,” she said. “Even though I'm not religious — I’m a Jew, I’m not religious — it was really good to be here with my people and to see the rest of the world embracing us, and to try to get to a place where I can think about maybe there's a future.”

Lue Rachelle Brim-Atkins and her two friends also attended the vigil. They’re all members of First AME church, which is right across the street from Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

“When our parishioners were killed in South Carolina, people from the Jewish and Muslim and Catholic and whatever religious communities came and supported us," Brim-Atkins said. "So we just wanted to come and support people in their grief, because we know what that feels like.”

It feels good, she said, to have other people stand up for you.

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