In paying their respects to the lives lost at the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Santa Clarita residents joined in solidarity with a candlelight community vigil at Marketplace Park on Sunday.
“After a week of worrying and waiting for news of the pipe bomb assassination attempt of 13 people, two national security advisers, political leaders and two former presidents, l woke up Saturday morning to the mass shooting murder of 13 people at a synagogue,” said organizer Patti Skinner Sulpizio. “‘Enough,’ I thought.”
Over a dozen explosive packages were mailed to several Democratic leaders and supporters across the country last week, including former presidents Clinton and Obama. The attacks resulted in the arrest of Florida resident Cesar Sayoc. The day after, gunman Robert Bowers killed 11 people and shot 6 others during Shabbat at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“We can’t accept this,” Skinner said.
She quickly reached out to friends via text messages and on Facebook, setting up an event page. With the help of fellow organizers Malcolm Blue and Barbara Creme, the result was over a hundred residents, local faith and political leaders who appeared, gathered with friends and loved ones to hold candles. The name of each person who was killed was read aloud, followed by the singing of “Hineh Ma Tov,” a Jewish hymn.
Speakers from Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action opened the vigil, followed by Temple Beth Ami’s Rabbi Mark Blazer.
Given his work, Skinner asked Rick Eaton to also speak.
“As a researcher for the Simon Wiesenthal Center over the past 33 years, I’ve gotten to see hate up close and personal,” Eaton said. “I have a very intimate relationship with it, unfortunately. Not only do I research the type of people that commit yesterday’s act but I’ve met them in person. I’ve seen what they’re about, I’ve seen the hate and ugliness in their eyes.”
Jay Farkas watched the speakers and looked at this event as a chance to celebrate unity and be part of healing.
“For me it’s especially important because I am Jewish, and my husband’s family are Holocaust survivors,” she said. “My father-in-law’s 98 and he survived the Holocaust. My mother-in-law was in Auschwitz. One of the women, her name was Rose (Mallinger), who was at the shooting, she was 97 and she was a Holocaust survivor, and the irony of surviving the hatred and vile destruction of a whole population, of a whole community, a whole race, and to live only to be murdered in this country by the same hatred.”
Not long after completing “Hineh Ma Tov,” vigil goers lingered with each other before extinguishing their candles and heading home for the night.