homepage logo

Shepherdstown candlelight vigil mourns shooting victims, preaches love

By Staff | Nov 9, 2018

Shepherd University alumna Ginny Adams Kafka discusses the importance of loving your neighbor during the candlelight vigil on Oct. 29. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — “Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, City of Pittsburgh; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township; Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh; David Rosenthal, 54, (brother of Cecil), of Squirrel Hill; Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg; Sylvan Simon, 86, (husband of Bernice), of Wilkinsburg; Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh; Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington, City of Pittsburgh; Maurice Stallard, 69, of Jeffersontown, Kentucky and Vickie Jones, 67, of Jeffersontown, Kentucky,” read Women’s March West Virginia-Shepherdstown Outreach Captain Susan Pipes, as she stood in front of McMurran Lawn on Oct. 26.

After reading the list of the 13 people who died from gun violence at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in a Kroger parking lot in Jeffersontown, Kentucky last weekend, Pipes explained the reason she and fellow WMWV-S member Sara Copo De Nieve planned the vigil.

“We wanted to have a vigil tonight. We must all stand together in the face of hate and bigotry — we are the solution,” Pipes said. “I’m going to ask you always to speak up, and not give anybody a pass when you hear hate speech. Let us be part of why the light beats the darkness, that love beats hate.”

Pipes was one of several people who spoke to dozens of Vigilance-JCWV, Women’s March West Virginia and community members during the vigil, which was led in the Jewish prayer, “The Mourner’s Kaddish,” by Daniel Bennett, of Martinsburg.

“It’s a prayer that’s read a lot of the time, but it’s read especially at times of funerals, for people who are mourning the death of family at the synagogue,” Bennett said. “People shouldn’t be killed like this for any reason.”

Bennett was followed in speaking by Shepherdstown resident Tony Russo, who, although not Jewish, is known for his pacifist beliefs.

“We cannot be silent, or we will forget,” Russo said, before having event attendees read quotes by Nobel Prize-winning Jewish advocate for peace Elie Wiesel. “My concern is for humanity, not just Jews themselves. Tonight, we are all Jewish.”

Shepherd University alumna and Orthodox Jew Ginny Adams-Kafka spoke after Russo, and read from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s book “The Empty Chair.”

“Sometimes it’s that painful experience that helps connect us to God and our community. We all, except the most evil people, have some great points, and it’s very important when a tragedy like this happens, to focus on those good points,” Kafka said. “If we wish to heal, we must heal our own hearts and as a community. And there’s no better place to do that than Shepherdstown.”

One community members at the vigil, Elise Baach, of Shepherdstown, said she hoped the vigil would speak to attendees about the importance of fighting hate.

“I hope it effects people. There’s so much hate and bigotry in the world, to think that someone feels that it’s okay to do this,” Baach said, mentioning her husband was Jewish. “Most of these people — I’m sure many of them have grandchildren. To lose your grandparent is horrible, but to lose them this way — that has lasting effects. I hope that eventually all this kind of bigotry will end.”