A crowd of students and faculty came together today on Gullen Mall to mourn and celebrate the lives of the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday. The memorial was hosted by Wayne State Hillel and Hillel of Metro Detroit, an organization for Jewish college students and metro Detroit adults.
In a statement sent to the WSU community, President M. Roy Wilson said: “Beyond condolences, beyond thoughts and prayers, perhaps we can commit to this: to honoring our long history of being a welcoming and inclusive campus community; to listening openly to those with whom we differ and assuming the best intent in the honest exchange of ideas; to tempering passion with reason and civility, rather than giving in to anger. To coming together rather than coming apart, and in doing so, setting an example for others to emulate.”
At the event, WSU students Jeremy Rosenberg and Annie Klinger read the names of the 11 victims aloud as they lit candles in their honor. Wilson was then invited to light a twelfth candle in honor of those injured and all victims of hate.
“There’s no denying these are dark times. There’s no denying that this was a racially motivated hate crime,” said Isaac Weiss, president of the WSU Jewish Student Organization. “We must be loud and proud of who we are. We must support each other. Love will win if only we can keep from being cowed by hate.”
A prayer was read by Rabbi Michele Faudem, and reflections were given by Father John Fletcher and Rexhinaldo Nazarko, a board member of the WSU Muslim Student Association.
“One of the main lessons taught to us by the Prophet Muhammed is to take care of our neighbors,” said Nazarko.
The memorial closed with a Hebrew hymn, Hine Mah Tov, whose lyrics translate to, “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity.”
“It’s great to see that the same way we’d be there for other people in the face of tragedy other communities are here for us,” said Abraham Fordonski, a WSU nursing student. “We are one nation no matter our race or faith, and we have to be there to support one another.”
Sean Taormina is The South End's breaking news and WSUPD beat reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.