People Gather On Boston Common To Mourn Tree Of Life Synagogue Victims

People gather in Boston Common Sunday to condemn anti-Semitism and mourn the victims of the deadly shooting Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue. (Simón Ríos/WBUR)
People gather in Boston Common on October 28, 2018 to condemn anti-Semitism and mourn the victims of the deadly shooting Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue. (Simón Ríos/WBUR)

More than a thousand people gathered on Boston Common Sunday afternoon to hold a vigil a day after a gunmen opened fire inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 worshipers and injuring six others, including four police officers.

The deadly attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh's residential Squirrel Hill neighborhood is being investigated as a hate crime, federal prosecutors said, and the Anti-Defamation League said it believes the shooting is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. The gunman surrendered to police inside the synagogue and now faces 29 counts in the deaths, including "federal crimes of violence and firearms offenses."

In Boston, people representing a rainbow of faiths gathered to pray, sing and mourn the victims.

Originally from India, Silvana Shaqueeb said as a Muslim woman, she wanted to stand in solidarity with Jewish people.

“I know how painful it is when things like this happen, and we wanted to just stand by them and tell them we are here for them and nothing, no matter how evil everything is outside, we still love each other,” she said.

Hamida Merchant, of Canton, shared a similar sentiment.

"Tomorrow it could be me," she said. "Tomorrow it could be my mosque. Somebody could just come in, and we pray there every Friday. God forbid something like this happens and some crazy person comes in and just kills. It could be me or my children.”

Several prominent public figures spoke at the gathering, including Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Healey told the crowd that on this day, "We're all Jews."

Walsh pledged the city would honor the welcoming spirit the victims embodied in their faith.

"[The Squirrel Hill victims] were targeted because they welcome the refugee and the immigrant," he said. "They were the helpers. ... That's what we're going to continue to do, we're going to continue to welcome people and open our arms."


Simón Rios Reporter
Simón Rios is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.



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