Nashville rabbis urged more than a thousand people Monday night to speak out against hateful words and actions following the shooting in Pittsburgh.
The memorial service included a song played on one of the Violins of Hope — instruments that survived the Holocaust — and the lighting of 11 memorial candles adorned with Stars of David, to commemorate the 11 victims of the attack.
Many in the overflow audience at The Temple, a synagogue in West Nashville, were clergy from other faiths, whom the rabbis thanked several times throughout the evening.
"The outpouring of love and support that came almost within minutes from our Muslim, Bahá'í, Christian and Catholic colleagues and friends indeed soften the pain and reminds me that we are a very blessed and special community here in Nashville," said Laurie Rice, rabbi at Congregation Micah.
But some Jewish members of the audience said the attack deeply shook their sense of security.
Cheryl Lane said West End Synagogue, where she attends, decided to cancel a social event on Saturday night because they didn't have a guard on duty. Her initial reaction to news of the attack, she said, was fear.
"The people who were there were the regulars. The people who come first thing. It's just so horrific because they're us," Lane said. "This person has attacked all of us."
Retired religious studies professor Daniel Patte, who is not Jewish, said he sees the shooting as part of a rising tide of anti-Semitism, which hearkens back to a darker period that he lived through.
"We were in France during the Nazis, and my family was trying to help Jewish refugees and trying to bring them to Switzerland," he said. "Never again, or once again?"
Rabbi Rice told the audience she believes hateful speech in politics — not just directed at Jews — is at the root of the uptick in violence.
"The rhetoric of anger in our country contributes to the frequency of these senseless acts of hatred," Rice said. "Friends, I fear that if we do not begin truly calling it out and saying that we will not stand for it anymore, we are as much to blame."