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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – The outrage and grief felt in Pittsburgh after the mass shooting continues to resonate in South Florida.
Rabbi Jonathan Berkun with the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center flew to Pittsburgh immediately after the tragedy.
His father is a longtime rabbi at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Berkun wrote on Facebook, “every single person who sits with my father in synagogue is dead. I have no doubt that had my mother not been ill, I would have flown home not to comfort my father, but to bury him.”
“I think people are stunned, sickened and outraged,” said Jacob Solomon, president of Miami’s Jewish Federation.
Solomon said the tragedy forces all institutions to take a closer look at security.
“The key is preparedness and if there is one good thing to come out of this it’s we must all pay attention more,” he said.
Recently they did an active shooting drill at the federation building in Miami
Temple Beth El in Hollywood has been looking at enhancing security.
But executive director Shai Habosha says the tragedy enhances their resolve.
“As a community, we are embracing our neighbors. This will not deter us from being who we are,” he said.
The accused shooter Robert Bowers posted on social media that the Jewish refugee aid group “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people.”
Luba Rosenbach, who was part of a resettlement program from Ukraine to South Florida 20 years ago, says she has seen a shift in attitudes toward Jewish people.
“As Jewish people, we felt very safe,” she said. “Now it’s the opposite direction.”
Dozens of students and leaders at Nova Southeastern University took part in a candlelight vigil for the Pittsburgh victims late Monday afternoon.
Students read the names of the dead from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. They also lit candles and sang songs.
They tried to come to grips with another mass shooting, this time in a house of worship.
Leaders implored attendees to treat hate with love and to make their voices heard in the face of hate speech and violence.
“At the same level that hate travel, at the same level that people can be inspired to do awful and evil acts, at that rate and even faster, we can inspire ourselves and others to do good,” said Rabbi Aryeh Schwartz, of the Chabad of NSU. “And that’s what it’s all about.”
“This is when you have to stand up and you have to make a statement and you have to challenge people who do these things and the leaders and stand up and try to stop these people also,” said NSU Professor Gary Gershman.
Jewish community leaders said the attack in Pittsburgh is an attack on all Jews and Americans.
“When a bullet is a shot at a Jew in Pittsburgh that bullet is felt by every Jew around the world and it should be felt by every American because it’s against all of us,” said Rabbi Yisroel Spalter of the Chabad of Weston.
In prayer vigils on Monday, songs were sung, prayers were prayed and candles were lit for the 11 victims in Pittsburgh. At the Chabad of Weston, they asked Steve and Fay Schacter to light a candle. They are no stranger to tragedy. Their grandson, Alex, was one of the Parkland victims earlier this year.
“It seems that wherever we go, it seems that hate seems to spring up so it’s a difficult situation,” Schacter said.
But he is confident that people can work to make a change.
“There are many different organizations and charities that are working to improve the level of discourse trying to make things better for all Americans,” he said.
The focus is on mourning the dead in Pittsburgh. It’s also on trying to find answers to this repeat violence…motivated by hate, fear and intolerance.Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz attended the Weston ceremony and said she believes social media companies need to do a better job cracking down on speech that incites violence.
“If they refuse to tighten up their standards then I think Congress has to step in, because I think we have a modern day equivalent on social media of someone yelling fire in a crowded theater,” she said.
Many throughout our community and our country are asking what can be done about the hatred and a rise in anti-semitism. On this night, community leaders preached love.
“Cold-blooded, fanatical, baseless, relentless hatred can only be uprooted from its core by saturating our world with pure, undiscriminating, uninhibited, unyielding love and acts of kindness,” said Rabbi Aryeh Schwartz, of the Chabad of NSU.