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by Rhonda Spivak Nov 10 2018

A huge crowd of over 2000 people , including many non-Jews from a variety of backgrounds packed the Shaarey Zedek
Synagogue (both upstairs and in the downstairs lounge) at the vigil to commemorate the shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue which left eleven
people dead. [ To see the vigil event in Winnipeg click here]


The vigil opened with the singing of "O Canada" by the Brock Corydon School Choir.


Rabbi Leibl of Congregation Shaarey Zedek referred to the turnout for the vigil as "overwhelming." He noted that "As Jews we are not unfamiliar with tragedy", but  we "have never  seen this type of attack before in North America ." He referred to the Pittsburgh synagogue attack as being  "shocking" and "scary" and asked whether "it  could happen again? Could it happen here?" 
Leibl emphasized that the Jewish community was "not alone", as evidenced by significant number of our non-Jewish neighbors that had turned out for the vigil. He said that by gathering at the vigil "We are showing that we are not afraid to go to synagogue." He added "As Jews
we've shown our strength as a people..."


Laurel Malkin President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg said that "On behalf of the Jewish Federation, our board, our partner agencies, our synagogues, and the entire Jewish community, we thank you for joining us as we reflect on the horrific events of SaturdayOctober 27thWe are honoured that so many of you have joined us here, to stand with us as we grieve for the victims and all of those affected by this tragedy."

Malkin then  acknowledged the following dignitaries: Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, MP for Winnipeg South Centre,Heather Stefanson, Deputy Premier and Minister of Families, MLA for Tuxedo, Ron Shuler, Minister of Infrastructure, and Minister responsible for Manitoba Emergency Measures, MLA for St. Paul, Wab Kinew, Leader of the Official Opposition, MLA for Fort Rouge, Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, MLA for St. Boniface,Jon Gerrard, MLA River Heights, Jon Reyes, MLA for St. Norbert, Flor Marcelino, MLA for Logan,Andrew Swan, MLA for Minto,Reg Helwer, MLA for Brandon West,Shannon Martin, MLA for Morris,Tom Lindsey, MLA for Flin Flon, Nic Curry, MLA for Kildonan,Nahanni Fontaine, MLA for St. Johns,Andrew Smith, MLA for Southdale,Blair Yakimoski, MLA for Transcona,Ted Marcelino, MLA for Tyndall Park, Bernadette Smith, MLA for Point Douglas, Mohinder Saran, MLA for The Maples

Mayor Brian Bowman, John Orlikow, City Councillor for River Heights Fort Garry,Police Chief Danny Smyth


Malkin noted that "The day of the shooting was a Shabbat, a day which is the holy centerpiece of our lives as Jews. A day for rest, reflection, and being with family. A day that was the scene of an unimaginable crime against the Jews of the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh, and by extension, an attack on all of us. On civilized society. On freedom of religion. A day that will now live in infamy as the deadliest act of anti-Semitism in North American history."


"Eleven souls were extinguished in a cowardly, despicable act of hatred. For many of us, it is beyond comprehension that hatred such as this exists within our world. That a synagogue, a place for family, love, and prayer – became, even for a short time, a place of death."

She said that "... people of all backgrounds and faiths that we must stand together against hatred wherever it may occur."


Malkin added "We are resilient. We will continue to live our lives as Canadians, continue to go to school and work, and proudly contribute to society as we always have. As Jews, we will continue to worship at synagogues, convene at community centres, attend Jewish day schools and engage in our communal activities with pride and resolve."


Malkin  thanked "all those who have voiced their support in this dark time and those of you have shown your support in being with us tonight. The outpouring of love, friendship and prayer from our Winnipeg community and beyond is overwhelming and so very much appreciated."


Malkin stated  "Tonight, we join Pittsburgh and stand together with all of the communities around the world in mourning the lives that were taken and say to them that you are not alone."

Rabbi Leibl indicated that a candle would be lit in memory of each of the 11 victims of the October 27th tragedy in Pittsburgh.


Candle Lighters were Rabbi Kliel Rose of Congregation Etz Chayim, Rabbi Yossi Benarroch of Congregation Adas Yeshurun Herzlia, Rabbi Arnold Glogauer, representing the Canadian Military,Cantor Len Udow of Temple Shalom,Marshall Kneller, of Chevra Mishnayes,Rocky Kravetsky, representing Chabad Lubavitch of Winnipeg, Jim Carr, representing the Federal Government, Heather Stefanson, representing the Provincial Government,Mr. Wab Kinew, representing the MB Official Opposition Party, Mr. Dougald Lamont, leader of the MB Liberal Party,Mayor Brian Bowman of the City of Winnipeg, Chief Danny Smyth of the Winnipeg Police Service.


"El Malah Rachamim " was sung by Congregation Etz Chayim's Cantor Tracy Kasner Greaves."Kaddish" and then the "Mi Sheberakh" was sung by Congregation Shaarey Zedek's Rabbi Anibal Mass. "Prayer for Peace" was delivered by Congregation Shaarey Zedek's Rabbi Matthew Leibl. "One Voice" and then "Hatikvah" was sung by the Gray Academy Choir. The vigil concluded with  Bill Weissmann blowing the Shofar.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.