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Good News: Interfaith Solidarity In the Wake of Tragedy

Infographic+by+Corine+Tamayo
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Good News: Interfaith Solidarity In the Wake of Tragedy

Infographic by Corine Tamayo

Infographic by Corine Tamayo

Infographic by Corine Tamayo

Infographic by Corine Tamayo

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On Saturday Oct. 27, a gunman opened fire on the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation — during its Shabbat services. According to the New York Times, separate ceremonies were occuring within the synagogue, including a baby naming.

The gunman has since been charged with 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death; 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a crime of violence; four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer; and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Put shortly, the tragedy has been identified as a hate crime against the Jewish community. The Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation — is a Conservative Jewish synagogue nestled in Squirrel Hill, a predominantly Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Since then, three interfaith vigils have been held to mourn and pray. The victims included Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger.

The Muslim community, another marginalized religious group, has given an outpouring of support. The Muslim-led nonprofit organizations,  CelebrateMercy and MPower Change, have partnered with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and the Tree of Life Synagogue and organized the fundraising drive. The fundraiser is on LaunchGood, a crowdfunding platform focused on the Muslim community worldwide. As of Thursday, Nov. 15, $57,447,024 has been raised for the victims’ families first, with remaining funds being spent on projects that help foster Muslim-Jewish collaboration, dialogue and solidarity.

Shay Khatiri, an Iranian-American seeking political asylum in the United States started a GoFundMe campaign for the Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha synagogue. Currently, the campaign has raised $1,202,060.

According to Wasi Mohamed, the executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, the Muslim Community is contributing in smaller, though still significant ways, everyday, too. Members of the community have offered trips to the grocery store, protection during services, etc.

So here’s the good news: Despite religious differences, people continually choose to respond with humanity and compassion in the wake of tragedy.  

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Good News: Interfaith Solidarity In the Wake of Tragedy