Three days after what’s believed to be the deadliest attack against Jews in U.S. history, UBC joined a long list of communities that have held vigils to commemorate the 11 people gunned down in their place of worship by a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs.
“We are coming together because it’s important for people to have an opportunity to voice their dismay, and for many, shock,” Rabbi Philip Bregman said.
WATCH: Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims to be honoured at UBC vigil
“If we are going to make a difference, we have to know that it will happen when individuals of differing opinions, of differing religious psychological, philosophical, theological backgrounds, can come and can sit and can be together.”
The vigil, hosted by the student group Hillel BC, took place outside the Hillel House, which is home to a memorial for murdered Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl.
“He was murdered because he was a Jew,” Bregman said. “The individuals in Pittsburgh were murdered because they were Jews.”
Several Jewish students at UBC said they’re shaken by the news but want to show strength through solidarity.
“I think it’s something that’s really underestimated is how much people still really hate the Jewish community and it’s scary to walk around knowing anyone could just do anything,” said Jewish student Jodi Margit Schneider.
The students lit candles and honoured the victims of the mass shooting. Several events were held across the country including in Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto.
“I always feel safe here but it’s these attacks that maybe add a sense of nervousness,” said Jewish student Jonah Morris, “but I’m very thankful for the police here they’ve helped here making us feel safe, UBC campus security they’re doing everything they can here on campus especially after these events.”
Coverage of the Pittsburgh shooting on Globalnews.ca
The UBC event came about a week before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to formally apologize for Canada’s decision to turn away a boat full of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939, resulting in the deaths of hundreds.
The vigil also came the same day U.S. president Donald Trump visits a grieving Pittsburgh as funerals are set to begin at the Tree of Life synagogue.
“As young people, we can stand up and hopefully prevent anything like this in the future,” Schneider said.