Hundreds of people gathered at the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial Tuesday evening to remember the lives of the 11 worshipers massacred at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
The interfaith vigil was one of several that have been held across South Florida in the past few days. It brought together local elected officials, religious figures and other community leaders.
Attendees prayed, waved signs and sang songs in Hebrew. Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber called for an end to intolerance of races and religions.
“You should be angry. You should be upset. You should be confused,” he told the crowd. “But the truth of the matter — telling the world that we are proud, telling them that we are united will do far more than anything else because that is how you move hate out. We are stronger than hate.”
A gunman who is believed to have shared anti-Semitic slurs on social media opened fire with an AR-15 at a baby-naming ceremony at the Tree of Life Congregation in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Saturday morning.
The shooting is being investigated as a federal hate crime, and the Anti-Defamation League said it is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97; eight were men, three were women. Six, including three police officers, were injured.
Miami-Dade County commissioner Eileen Higgins said she cried upon hearing of the shooting.
“We are not safe from guns and from prejudice and from racism in the places we should be safest,” Higgins said. “Collectively as a community and as nation, we have work to do.”
Steven Greenspan attended the event and called for an end to divisive political rhetoric. He noted that his parents were both Holocaust survivors.
“I felt I had to be here, especially for my parents,” Greenspan said. “What’s happening in our country — I think they would be horrified. And I think it would bring back a lot of bad memories to them.”
But speakers and other attendees also expressed hope for the future. They said the event was a symbol of resistance that Jewish people will not be intimidated.
Indeed, the American Jewish Committee is calling on Jewish communities across the country to attend regular Shabbat services this week in response to the attack.