Lakeland honors victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

Jillian Kurtz and Reems Landreth

A message of light and love united the Lakeland community on Oct. 28 during a service of unity and remembrance at Temple Emanuel.

Mike Scolnick, former Vice President of Temple Emanuel, wipes away tears during the service on the front lawn of Temple Emanuel on Oct. 28, 2018.

The service was in response to the deaths of 11 at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. on Saturday, Oct. 27. According to The New York Times, this event has been described as one of the deadliest attacks against the Jewish community in the United States.

Florida Southern freshmen Gabby Araguiz and Melina Ramirez attended the event after being notified by an email sent out to all students from President Anne Kerr at 4:15 p.m.

“I just feel a really strong connection to my community and we prayed here [Temple Emanuel] about a month ago for the high holidays,” Ramirez said.

Araguiz stated that her former rabbi used to attend Tree of Life synagogue.

“I feel like you need to show that you care and this matters and this shouldn’t be happening,”Araguiz said.

Dr. Catherine Eskin, advisor for FSC Hillel, was in attendance.

“It isn’t about faith,” Eskin said. “Generally, when this kind of thing happens, it doesn’t have to do with whether you believe in God, it has to do with whether you love other human beings.”

Temple Emanuel Rabbi David Goldstein spoke to reporters before the service that he was disheartened but not surprised that an incident like this occurred.

Rabbi David Goldstein and Sheriff Grady Judd embrace during the service at Temple Emanuel on Oct. 28, 2018.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd spoke during the service addressing the Jewish community saying, “You are not alone. We will do everything possible to protect you. You already know that we love you.”

He went on to say that his officers will do whatever it takes to protect the citizens of Polk County and bring swift justice to anyone who opposes their freedoms.

“Personally I never thought that safety in a temple would ever be an issue because that is a spiritual and safe zone,” FSC Hillel President Andrew Gapinski said in a message. “We shouldn’t have to hide from the world to practice our religion.”

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Copyright 2018