Colby community holds vigil for Pittsburgh shooting victims

By Louisa Goldman

Colby students and faculty gathered on Sunday night, Oct. 28, to hold a vigil for the victims of an attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. 11 people were killed and six injured in the shooting, which occurred on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Organized by Colby Hillel, Rabbi Erica Asch, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the vigil was scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Pugh Center; however, due to the unexpectedly large turn out, it was moved to Pulver.

“I was personally heartened to see so many people there standing against hatred and antisemitism and in solidarity with the Jewish community,” Rabbi Asch said in a recent email to the Echo.

Student Government President Taylor Haberstock ’19 reiterated this sentiment in an interview with the Echo. “Our community is committed to creating a safe and compassionate environment for all members and this event showed that hate and intolerance will never prevail on this campus and beyond.”

The service, which Rabbi Asch led in conjunction with Hillel, included multiple Jewish songs and prayers of loss, such as the Misheberach and the Mourner’s Kaddish. Attendance, however, was not limited to Jewish students, including many from the Colby and larger Waterville community.

“It meant a lot to many of us to see such an outpouring of support that we have here at Colby,” Hillel Co-President Maddy Albert ’20 said of the event in an email with the Echo.

Albert went on to explain the difficult mourning process many Hillel members may be facing.

“I think this weekend was pretty hard on a lot of us. I think many of us feel that this could have been our hometowns and home congregations or Jewish institutions, and that is pretty rattling,” Albert said. “Also, because there is such a small population of Jews out there [in Pittsburgh], there are people in Hillel with personal connections to Squirrel Hill [where the attack took place] and the community there and many who know of others with personal connections.”

In a message to the entire student body, Colby College President David Greene recognized the sense of sadness encompassing the campus.

“I encourage you to join me in thinking about what we might do as individuals and as a community to alter this dangerous course we are on, to end the acts of personal destruction and violence, and to imagine and create a more just, peaceful society,” Greene wrote.

Dean of Religious Studies and Spiritual Life Kurt Nelson recommended students take special measures that they see fit in this time of mourning.

“Make space for grief, be kind to yourself, and seek support where you need it. Don’t neglect community, eating, and regular care of self.”