Northwestern students, community mourn Tree of Life Synagogue shooting victims

By Ashley Hackett
Medill Reports

Hundreds of Northwestern  University students and faculty, joined by community residents, gathered Monday night in a candlelight vigil on campus to mourn the loss of 11 members of the Jewish community who were shot at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The Northwestern chapter of Hillel, a worldwide Jewish campus organization, and Northwestern President Morton Schapiro invited the community to come together at Northwestern’s mid-campus monument “The Rock” to mourn the 11 victims and pray for the injured in Saturday’s horrific attack.

Andie Linker, Northwestern Hillel’s Student Executive Board President, spoke from the heart crowd Monday night. “There are no words,” she said. “No words to express the immense sadness and fear and anger I felt on Saturday. No words to express the dark cloud that I felt fall upon my Jewish community and my friends here on campus. No words to repair this tragedy.” (Ashley Hackett/Medill)
A sea of candles flickered as the crowd kept one minute of silence in memory of the 11 lives lost on Saturday. “It was crazy to see the magnitude of people around me,” Linker said. “It was more than I ever could have imagined.” (Ashley Hackett/Medill)
Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, the leader of NU’s Tannenbaum Chabad House, and several other student leaders each read a name of each of the victims. “When we read names , it tells us these are real people with real lives, caring people, people with an unbelievable amount of love,” Klein said. (Ashley Hackett/Medill)
Many members of the neighboring community came to Northwestern’s campus to mourn. Participants in the vigil sang traditional songs including Mourner’s Kaddish and Mi Sheberakh (Prayer for Healing). (Ashley Hackett/Medill)
Eleven empty chairs with the names of 11 victims of the Tree of Life massacre represented the 11 seats in the congregation that would never be filled in the same way again. (Ashley Hackett/Medill)
Joel Kirshner, who grew up attending celebrations at Tree of Life, shared how the tragedy hit him and his family. “While our community mourns, there’s been an immense outpouring of love and support. That’s indicative of a greater message in a world where time and time again we see the worst in humanity – there is still love to be shared.” (Ashley Hackett/Medill)
Photo at top: Northwestern students sang along to hymns in Hebrew and English as part of the candlelight vigil. (Ashley Hackett/Medill)