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Religion

Penn State Mourns Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Penn State is home to nearly 5,000 Jewish students and faculty members. Many have connections to Pittsburgh and its Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 people were killed by a gunman on Saturday.

Torey Josowitz grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. She greeted people arriving outside of Penn State’s Old Main building on Monday night, as the “Prayers for Pittsburgh” vigil began. 

Josowitz said she knows those who were shot and the families affected by the shooting.

“It’s just upsetting and terrifying,” she said. “I would never think, in my community, that this would ever happen.”

It’s been reported that the shooting is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States. For many, it reflects an increase in anti-Semitism.

“I think [anti-Semitism] is rising around the country and the world, and in that way, it’s a concern,” said Aaron Kaufman, executive director of Penn State Hillel.

“At Penn State, this is typically an inclusive community, and we don’t see it where it’s headed the way it has in other communities in America,” Kaufman said. “And yet, Pittsburgh is a reminder that no one is immune from it.”

Penn State Hillel and the Chabad of Penn State hosted the vigil, and hundreds attended.

Penn State president Eric Barron spoke at the event, saying that hate “has no place” at the university.

In addition to praying for victims and the wounded, speakers also asked those who attended to pledge an act of kindness in the face of violence.

Josowitz shared that pledge and said her hope is the tragedy wouldn’t be forgotten.

“Stand in front of the synagogue so people can pray," Josowitz said, "host minyans at [your] house, host Shabbat dinners, and even connect with other religious groups in the community so we have a stronger united front.”

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