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Pittsburgh natives light candles at Boca interfaith vigil

Pittsburgh natives emotionally lit memorial candles at Boca’s remembrance for the 11 Jewish worshippers murdered.

Nearly 1,000 people listened, applauded and sang through two and a half hours of prayers, hymns and words at the interfaith service. Rabbi David Steinhardt, senior rabbi at B’nai Torah Congregation, moderated the vigil there Tuesday night.

In an emotional moment, Rabbi David Englander asked people from Squirrel Hill and Pittsburgh to come up front. Filling the platform, they lit the memorial candles and recited the victims’ names. One woman wore a pin that said: “No hate.”

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw promised to keep Boca’s Jewish community safe. “We’re paying extra attention. We understand the threat and will take action,” said Bradshaw, head of Homeland Security for the region.

Memorial candle lighting at B’nai Torah Congregation.

A man who shouted a racial slur in West Boca was tracked down and arrested, Bradshaw said.

Boca’s Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Morman clergy spoke to pledge their solidarity.

“We stand with you. We stand beside you. We stand around you,” said Rev. Andrew Sherman of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church. He co-leads Boca’s Interfaith Clergy Association with Steinhardt.

“Tonight I am Jewish,” said Brett Puterbaugh of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Anti-semitic violence has escalated 57 percent since 2016, said Tracey Grossman, who heads the Florida region of the Anti-Defamation League. The Pittsburgh murders were the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, she said.

Show Up for Shabbat is an international effort to “flood synagogues” for the Sabbath in solidarity, said Laurence Milstein, regional director of the American Jewish Committee. He asked the audience to participate.

Elected officials spoke last.

“Your presence speaks volumes,” said Boca Mayor Scott Singer.

“What happened felt so personal to me,” said Congresswoman Lois Frankel. “To the killer in Pittsburgh and anti-Semites, I’m always proud to be a Jew.”

“The rhetoric is too hot, and dangerous words matter,” said Congressman Ted Deutch.

By Marci Shatzman

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