‘Peace, Unity, Prayer’ vigil in Monroeville stresses importance of community

November 18, 2018

As he walked out of his Monroeville synagogue Sunday afternoon, Marc Yergin reflected on society.

“We don’t have to worry about a dystopian future,” said Yergin, 73. “Because that dystopian future is already here.”

Yergin was among around 250 people who attended a “Peace, Unity, Prayer” vigil Sunday at Temple David, a synagogue in Monroeville along Northern Pike. Several religious leaders of various faiths took turns addressing the grieving crowd a day after a mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill left 11 dead and six injured.

Yergin lives in Squirrel Hill with his wife. The couple have attended Temple David since marrying in 1982.

“We’ve read in the papers and seen on TV all the horrific things that happen, yet we still thought, ‘never here,’” Yergin said.

Yergin was a friend to Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, one of the 11 victims who died.

“I used to ride bikes with him,” he said.

To open the vigil, Rabbi Barbara Symons tore a strip of black garment as she read the names and ages of each victim.

“Our tradition is to tear our clothing when hearing of a death, when a loved one has been torn from us,” Symons said. “And that tear will never be repaired.”

Susan Silverman Marconi, 57, of Monroeville, sat close to a door with a window during the vigil.

“It’s just frightening this could happen. I was thinking during the service, you know, anybody could just come up to that window ...,” her voice trailed. “That could happen here.”

Marconi has attended Temple David for 25 years. She said she was unprepared for the emotions she’s felt since learning what happened at Tree of Life.

“When it’s close to home like that, it hurts your heart,” Marconi said.

Brenda Salisbury, 57, of Plum, said, in a way, she and the other 220 Temple David congregants all are victims.

“We need to be together right now. Not just on the day after horrific crimes, but always,” she said.

The Rev. Scott Gallagher of Garden City United Methodist Church in Monroeville shared a similar sentiment.

“We’re going to claim this day as a day that we have started something new, a new dawn. A new sense of community where we don’t just share our voices together, we don’t just share stories together and workplaces. We share ourselves with one another,” he said.

Toward the end of the vigil that lasted just over an hour, those in the crowd stood as they sang “We Shall Overcome.” As the song progressed and the lyrics changed to “We are not afraid,” some joined hands.

“I watched as row after row was joining hands, and up on the pulpit, that started to take place,” Symons said. “I was just thinking of how representative of our community it is. I thought it was just such a powerful moment, at the end I didn’t want to let go.”

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