Community Gathers for Tree of Life Candlelight Vigil


by Michelle Trajtman and Ainslee Archibald

Over 2,000 people gathered on Nov. 1 at Temple Beth Sholom to honor the 11 victims killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The service was organized by Jewish Nevada, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Nevada Board of Rabbis, and included rabbis and Jewish congregations from across the Las Vegas Valley, as well as leaders and members of other religions.

Community and religious leaders read the names of the victims and short descriptions of each life lost. Candles were lit for each person with a moment of silence afterwards as people mourned.

Songs and prayers were recited as everyone embraced each other. The community came together in such a dark moment, providing hope for those in attendance. Rabbi Benny Katz from Temple Beth Sholom recognized the importance of leadership after a tragedy like this.

“I think it’s about a moment of moral leadership. And I think we can do that with each other and for each other, but we have to be brave enough to try. And that means not getting lost in our little screens, and actually looking at each other, and saying ‘I know this affects you just like it affects me’. And all the people here tonight, they felt that, so it was a successful event,” he said.

Katz from Temple Beth Sholom also had words to share about the importance of young people working together to solve problems.

“We are looking to your generation for the leadership… Even in religious organizations, there’s politics. Politics about holding on to the power you have. Politics about making sure you’re noticed, that you’re the one that people associate the idea with. There’s something much more democratic in your generation, in how you work together. And I don’t think we know how to do that, so I’ve always felt we look to young people for ideas and insight into the way the world works. I think [your generation] is much more ready to take risks and be committed,” he said.