Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi President Jeremy Rosenberg reads the names of victims of the Oct. 27 synagogue massacre as Jewish Student Organization board member Annie Klinger lights candles in their memory during a memorial event at Wayne State University Oct. 30.

Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi President Jeremy Rosenberg reads the names of victims of the Oct. 27 synagogue massacre as Jewish Student Organization board member Annie Klinger lights candles in their memory during a memorial event at Wayne State University Oct. 30.

Photo by Sean Work


Wayne State University students hold memorial for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue attack

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published October 31, 2018

 Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson lights a final candle in honor of those injured in the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue Oct. 30.

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson lights a final candle in honor of those injured in the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue Oct. 30.

Photo by Sean Work

 Rabbi Michele Faudem, of Hillel of Metro Detroit, recites a prayer during a memorial event at Wayne State University Oct 30 to remember the 11 people killed in the anti-Semitic mass shooting in Pittsburgh Oct. 27.

Rabbi Michele Faudem, of Hillel of Metro Detroit, recites a prayer during a memorial event at Wayne State University Oct 30 to remember the 11 people killed in the anti-Semitic mass shooting in Pittsburgh Oct. 27.

Photo by Sean Work

DETROIT — The shock and pain caused by the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue Oct. 27 was felt by people across the country and world.

Several students at Wayne State University hosted a public memorial service for the 11 victims who lost their lives in the attack and to pray for peace and positive change. It took place outdoors on the Gullen Mall in the heart of the university’s Detroit campus Oct. 30.

“I think this event is important because it allows people to come together and show their support in this time of need for those who are suffering,” said Rabbi Michele Faudem, one of the speakers at the event.

The event was organized by Hillel of Metro Detroit, which describes itself as “The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.”

“This was all because of our students,” said Miriam Starkman, the executive director of Hillel. “They wanted to do something to express their grief. We did something yesterday with just Jewish students, but they wanted something for the whole campus so everyone could express their sadness and outrage.”

The event featured speakers from several Wayne State University religious and cultural groups. Olivia Berlin, Hillel program associate at Wayne State University, said this was important in order to show solidarity and demonstrate how they will not let hatred divide people.

“We want to bring awareness to the situation and promote unity and community,” said Berlin. “We’ve brought together the Jewish Student Organization as well as the Newman Catholic Center and the Muslim Students’ Association to show everyone is standing together after this attack.”

Representatives from the three groups all spoke in remembrance of the victims and prayed for peace. They also encouraged those in attendance to act in order to reduce the divisive and hateful rhetoric they said was all too common in society.

A moment of silence was held and candles were lit as the names of the victims were read aloud.

“We are here to honor those killed in the abhorrent murder of Jews while at synagogue,” Hillel member Joseph Yusubov said while speaking to the crowd. “Let us not remember the killer’s name, but let us take a moment to remember those who died.”

Rex Nazarko, of the Muslim Students’ Association, led a prayer for the victims and urged people to be politically active to change the cultural landscape that can allow, or even encourage, such violence to happen.

“One of the main principles we share as Americans is we are all equal. No one should be ostracized or set apart,” said Nazarko. “(An attack like this) creates division, spreads hatred and encourages polarization. This is incentivized by many of our political leaders. We need to come together as Americans. … Now more than ever we need to stay together, stay focused on real issues and go back to our moral values.”

Several members of Wayne State University’s administration were in attendance and voiced their support for the program.

“University communities should never be passive in the face of something so horrific as intolerance and hate,” said WSU President M. Roy Wilson. “We have a very diverse community, and we have a responsibility to respond. I am so proud of our students for putting this program together.”

The event’s organizers said this was a tragedy that should shake everyone to the core, and said that it was especially chilling for the Jewish community given the violence it historically has faced.

“The fact that there’s still such hatred in this world based on religion, race or sexual orientation is outrageous,” said Starkman. “(The attack) shows this could happen to anyone, but as a Jewish person, this strikes very close to home for me.”

Despite the fear, sadness and outrage, the speakers at the event all urged people to use this as an opportunity for improvement — both on a personal level and a societal one.

“The question is what will happen two weeks from now, four weeks from now, six months from now,” said Faudem. “I don’t know how things will change, but I hope people take the opportunity to take pride in who they are and start listening to each other, even if they disagree.”