The Village Shul on Eglinton Avenue West is expecting twice the number of worshippers this Sabbath.
“Some people are calling it pack the synagogues, but it’s literally a call to all the Jewish people to come back into shul — the place where a week ago there was a shooting,” said Rabbi Tzvi Sytner.
It’s part of a campaign called “Show up for Shabbat,” which was launched by the global advocacy organization American Jewish Committee (AJC), in response to Saturday’s massacre in Pittsburgh.
Eleven worshippers were gunned down at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill, one of Pittsburgh’s most vibrant Jewish communities.
In a statement, AJC’s CEO David Harris said, “I encourage all members of the Jewish community and all people of conscience across our country to join me.”
The campaign is also encouraging community allies to show up.
The attack sent shockwaves and anguish across the globe.
“This anti-Semite murderer wanted to instill fear and we’re not going to be afraid, but rather we are going to strengthen our Jewish identities,” said Rabbi Sytner.
“Christian, Muslim, Jewish, everybody come in.”
Besides honouring the victims of the attack, the AJC said “Show up for Shabbat” is also about standing up to anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.
The organization expects people from more than 35 Jewish communities around the world to participate, and welcome an influx of attendees at Shabbat services.
“What this guy wanted was to break apart the Jewish people and what are we doing, we are going to unify this Shabbat,” noted Sytner.
Asked about how the Jewish community is dealing with the tragedy, Sytner said, “This is the story of the Jewish people. This is 3,300 years of pogroms and holocausts and all other anti-Semitic events that have taken place in history.”
“A gunman wanted to bring hate into the world, but we are going to respond with love,” he added.