In a moving and emphatic show of solidarity after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, hundreds of people from across Los Angeles County gathered on Nov. 1, for an interfaith worship service at the First AME Church, and sang and prayed together for hope, healing, courage and perseverance.
Pastor J. Edgar Boyd of First AME Church and Rabbi Zoë Klein Miles of Temple Isaiah preached to the diverse crowd, while Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued a call to solidarity. They were joined by U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin, L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, Rabbi Deborah Schmidt, Pastor Terry L. Brown of Liberty Baptist Church and the Rev. Hosea Collins of the City of Refuge.
“The Tree of Life Shooting was another attempt by a White supremacist to destroy what has made this country so great — our differences and our diversity. But they will not succeed,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We are together tonight out of a sense of hope, healing and solidarity. Let us stand together and honor through our deeds the actions that will turn this tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue into a garden of hope across the country.”
“Whenever the sinister forces of wickedness and evil rise up and threaten the human virtues of a loving society, the diverse community of the faithful must respond,” Boyd said. “We must respond in a show of love over hate; we must respond to ensure that the weak will overcome the wicked; and we must respond to empower the kindness of the victim to conquer the vile of the villain through the enduring power of human love.”
“Together, we have cried a river of tears. Together, we have worked to rebuild what is broken,” Miles said. “Unified in hope, unified in the belief in the ultimate triumph of good, we join our voices, our hearts, our spirits in prayer and fellowship. We join to show that our boundaries are false, but our shared dreams are what are real and achievable.”
The interfaith ceremony was held in the wake of a gunman murdering 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. This latest attack on a house of worship recalled the 2015 shooting of nine African Americans at the Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“The alarming increase on attacks of houses of worship cannot escape us, whether in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, or others that are thankfully less fatal, but still are devastating to the faithful,” Bass said. “Here in Los Angeles, our diversity can lull us into forgetting that anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate can still erupt into vicious violence, but I firmly believe that our determination to heal the world will prevail if we stand together as we did tonight, in love and as one.”