“Stronger Together,” a candlelight vigil against anti-Semitism, took place Monday evening as a collaborative effort to combat hate, violence and to spread love.
The vigil was organized from 5:30-6:30 p.m. by Jordyn Zimmerman, who is involved with Hillel in the international student cabinet, with the help and sponsorship of others in connection with the Pittsburgh shooting Saturday that killed 11 people.
The vigil started with remarks from Zimmerman, a junior studying education policy, who said she thinks it is important society spreads love during a time of hate. Zimmerman also has personal connections with the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shooting take place.
Alec Charron, a sophomore studying strategic communication, thought it was moving to see about 200 people at the event.
“It’s amazing to see people partake in the Jewish traditions even if they aren’t Jewish in support,” Charron said.
Ohio University President Duane Nellis spoke about how the shooting cut across the heart and soul of what the university believes in.
“It’s important to show support for our people that are of Jewish faith in our community,” Nellis said. “Also particularly our Jewish students that we have at Ohio University and on a tragic time as we reflect on those that were lost in Pittsburgh.”
Zachary Reizes, one of the organizers for the event, decided to help when Zimmerman asked him. Reizes said it took him a day and a half to plan.
“I realized as soon as she asked that it was something I needed to have done for my own healing,” Reizes, a senior studying global studies war and peace, said.
Jackie Levine, the Chabad president, liked the candlelight vigil, but didn’t like when Reizes distributed brochures about early voting to people present toward the end of the vigil.
Levine, a senior studying communications, said people she knew were concerned about coming to the candlelight vigil because they were afraid that it would become an event about voting.
“I wish politics wasn’t brought up in it,” Levine said. “We’re here to come as a community, and to deter from that, to express your own political concerns is not what we came for and for you to organize this event and to turn to that is just very inappropriate.”
Levi Raichik, rabbi at Chabad of Athens and OU, was impressed by the amount of people who showed up for the event. He wants Jewish students to continue to show their Jewish pride and to not be afraid of the events that took place Saturday in Pittsburgh.
“It doesn’t matter what my religious beliefs are or what race I am at the end of the day these are still my brothers and sisters in Christ.” Brandi Baker, an Athens resident, said.
Ian McKenzie and Mikayla Rochelle contributed to this report.