Middletown synagogue honors victims of Pittsburgh shooting

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Middletown synagogue honors victims of Pittsburgh shooting

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The Temple Shalom was packed Thursday night as members of the community mourned the loss of the 11 men and women killed in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend.

The Middletown Jewish congregation held a “Service for Peace” to honor the victims and promote unity. People of different religions attended the service, plus a contingent from the NAACP to show unity in the face of division.

“It was an abomination that took place in Pittsburgh; it was a heinous crime, and we want to deal with that issue publicly,” said Michael Mendell, Temple Shalom’s president.

The Pittsburgh attack killed 11 people and left 6 others injured. Temple Shalom’s service was also a response to a shooting Oct. 24 at a Kentucky grocery store, where a black man and woman were killed by a white man; which is now being investigated as a hate crime.

The Middletown synagogue is taking part in “Show Up for Shabbat,” a campaign encouraging Americans of all faiths to visit synagogues this weekend for Shabbat services, as a statement of fighting anti-Semitism. The campaign is organized by the American Jewish Committee.

Mendell said they are opening the temple to the entire community, and have invited clergy from other churches and synagogues.

“If we can’t go to pray in our temple or our synagogue or our churches, what is the use?” said Mendell. “That is what this is about: to bring the community together. … The Holocaust wasn’t that long ago. One of the things that we often say is, ‘never forget,’ and it’s true. How can you forget when you have a heinous crime like this? It is still here. We Jews live with it all the time.”

The suspect in Pittsburgh shooting faced a judge Thursday morning. Robert Bowers, 46, entered a plea of not guilty and requested a jury trial.

Michaela McDonald, Bill Tomison and Jessica Pace contributed to this report.

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