There was barely any standing room as Montrealers gathered Monday evening to mourn and commemorate the lives of those killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which left 11 people dead over the weekend.
Rabbi Reuben Joshua Poupko acknowledged the size of the crowd, which filled every pew as well as the upstairs balcony at the Beth Israel Beth Aaron synagogue.
“This is the most important statement,” he said. “There are members of all communities here. The Jewish community doesn’t stand alone, and it doesn’t grieve alone. The pain is shared by many.”
The vigil, which was held in Côte Saint-Luc, drew hundreds of supporters, including Quebec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault and federal Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly.
At the ceremony, a heavy police presence was visible outside the building following a promise from Montreal police to increase surveillance outside synagogues in wake of the shooting. There were also private security guards inside the building.
The names of the eleven victims — who were killed when a gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire — were read during the vigil.
Steven Erdelyi, a city councillor for Côte Saint-Luc, said the Jewish community “will not be silenced by what happened” and will continue to attend synagogue following the attack. He also said it is important for Montrealers to show their solidarity.
“We hope that it will not happen again and we hope there won’t be events like this in the future,” he said.
“It’s important to be vigilant but it’s important to still be strong as a community.”
It marks one of several commemorative events held by the city’s Jewish community in the wake of the fatal Pittsburgh attack.
Over the weekend, there was a demonstration in front of Montreal’s Holocaust Museum, which organizers described as both an act of mourning and a demonstration against the rise of racism.
The province’s Muslim community has also reached out to the Pittsburgh synagogue. Leaders of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec — where six worshippers were killed when a lone gunman entered the mosque in January 2017 — called the attack an “act of enormous gravity.”
WATCH: Rabbi Alan Bright recounts how he discovered a rose with a handwritten note outside his NDG synagogue Saturday evening, following the deadly attack in Pittsburgh
“Today, we understand very well the pain that Jewish families feel and we are wholeheartedly with them,” the centre said in a statement.
There have also been displays of sympathy and solidarity across the country, in which Canadians have gathered to commemorate the victims’ lives.
—With files from Global’s Jonah Aspler, Gloria Henriquez and the Canadian Press