CSU campus vigil remembers Pittsburgh shooting victims

Emma Iannacone

Video by Emma Iannacone

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Light has led Jewish tradition for thousands of years, and on Oct. 30 it led a Colorado State University vigil in honor of the 11 people killed in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.

“We stand together tonight at this vigil, in a way that darkness cannot overcome,” President Tony Frank said.

The campus vigil was hosted by Chabad Jewish Student Organization, Hillel at CSU, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi in the Lory Student Center Ballroom A.

“The goal is to bring light, comfort and peace, given the recent instances of violence fueled by hate,” wrote Mary Ontiveros, vice president for diversity, and Blanche Hughes, vice president for student affairs, in a campus-wide email.

An attendee of the vigil for the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting listen to a Jewish psalm. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

More than 200 people attended the event to remember and grieve for the people killed on Saturday during Sabbath worship.

“It’s that sense of communitythat unitythat gives you strength to move ahead in a very difficult time,” said Rabbi and CSU professor Yerachmiel Gorelik.

Prayers, poems and psalms were read as 11 candles flickered next to the podium. CSU officials and several student leaders spoke, including Kenny Shuster, a Hillel at CSU board member.

“Let’s practice what we preach; love your neighbor as you love yourself,” Shuster said.

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Sarah Convissar, a senior early childhood education major and president of Chabad, felt comforted by the opportunity to honor the victims of the shooting.

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“Obviously it’s not the circumstance we want everyone to come together in, but to see that everyone is here and opening their arms is great,” Convissar said.

Gorelick said the past few yearsboth nationally and locallyhave been difficult for the Jewish community because of an increase of anti-semitic acts.

Attendees of the vigil for the Pittsburg shooting light candles that rest in the shape of the Star of David. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

Joel Somerville, a first-year engineering major, helped attendees light candles at the entrance and handed out yarmulkes. He wasn’t surprised by the violence in Pittsburgh.

“I had recently had hateful comments thrown my way by my peers,” Somerville said. “Only a few days later this was in the news, and it just felt all too real.”

Gorelick encouraged people to provide support to one another and focus on making life better for others.

“I’m hoping that we can continue to grow and we can become stronger and prouder,” Gorelick said. “And that in itself will bring that comfort and light to this shattered world that we see right now.”

Resources for students struggling with the aftermath of the shooting:

CSU Health Network Counseling Services

970-491-6053,  970-491-7111 (after hours)/p>

Spiritual Care Services

970-491- 7121

Organizations for Jewish students:

Hillel at CSU
720 W Laurel Street
Fort Collins, CO 80521

Chabad Jewish Student Organization

970-407-1613

Alpha Epsilon Pi International Fraternity

443-834-9904

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi

saepicsu@gmail.com

Emma Iannacone can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @EmmaIannacone.

Editor’s note: A previous version of “CSU campus vigil remembers Pittsburgh shooting victims” published Oct. 30 spelled Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik’s name incorrectly. We have corrected this to the proper spelling.