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Twin Cities memorials planned in wake of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

Temple Israel, U of M Hillel organize to show solidarity

October 27, 2018 - 5:10 pm

There are memorials Sunday in the Twin Cities in reaction to the mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people.

The first is at 3:00 p.m. at Temple Israel in the uptown neighborhood.  Senior Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman posted this message on the temple website:

At Temple Israel, we have always taken security seriously, regardless of incidents such as today's tragedy. We allocate significant resources for visible and non-visible security measures every day. In light of this incident, our clergy and staff, together with our security team, have been in constant communication with our partners at the Minneapolis Police Department, Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Department of Homeland Security. Here in Minneapolis, our Christian and Muslim clergy partners have reached out to share their horror and sadness, and to let us know that the Jewish community is in their prayers.

At 7:00 Sunday night, a candlelight vigil takes place at the University of Minnesota Hillell on University Avenue near the main campus.

"It's a deplorable act," Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas executive director Steve Hunegs said Saturday. "Particularly heinous since it targeted people at prayer."

Hunegs and the staff worked Saturday on its security response. He said the community centers and synagogues were prepared and all levels of law enforcement, including Minneapolis and St. Paul Police assisted with enhanced security protocols.

In the west Metro, St. Louis Park mayor Jake Spano said the police department has been in touch with Jewish groups and organizations to meet their needs. They've also increased their patrols around the local J-C-C, synagogues and neighborhoods with a high concentration of Jewish residents.

"Keep in mind that it's relatively rare to occur in the United States," Hunegs said. "Nevertheless we're vigilant in our security and of course deeply concerned when it occurs."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department intends to file hate crime and other charges against the man accused in a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that killed 11 people. Hunegs called anti-Semitism a "3,000 year-old condition," but that doesn't mean anyone's immune to the kind of hateful violence seen in Pittsburgh.

President Trump called the attack at a baby naming ceremony a "wicked act of mass murder" that "is pure evil, hard to believe and frankly something that is unimaginable." The suspect, Robert Bowers, is hospitalized.

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is deploring "another horrific act of hate at a house of worship."

He says the Saturday morning shooting is reminiscent of "the slaughter of nine African American worshippers at Charleston's Mother Emmanuel Church in 2015, the killings of six Sikh worshippers at a temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2014, and, of course, the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 that left four young African American girls dead."

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt has tweeted: "We are devastated. Jews targeted on Shabbat morning at synagogue, a holy place of worship, is unconscionable. Our hearts break for the victims, their families, and the entire Jewish community."

UPDATE: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey responded: