Overflow Crowd at Vigil for Pittsburgh Victims

In memory of those killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, candles were lit at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons last Thursday night. Durell Godfrey Photos

A crowd estimated at over 600, representing leaders and congregants of just about every synagogue and church on the South Fork, filled the Jewish Center of the Hamptons Thursday night for a vigil memorializing the 11 victims of last week's massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. When the center's sanctuary could hold not another soul, the latecomers spilled into a downstairs social hall to hear the service through an audio feed.

Rabbis Joshua Franklin of the Jewish Center and Daniel Geffen of Sag Harbor's Temple Adas Israel jointly organized and led the memorial service. Rabbi/Cantor Debra Stein of the center led the East Hampton Presbyterian Church chorus in prayerful songs of hope, togetherness, and love. East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach offered sympathy and assistance wherever possible. Village Police Chief Michael Tracey read the names of the six Pittsburgh policemen injured in the shooting and a prayer for the safety of law enforcement officers everywhere. Eleven church leaders, representing the East Hampton Clericus, lit candles, one for each victim, as the names and ages of those killed were read aloud. Toward the end, everyone in attendance switched on a small electric candle and held them as the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, was recited.

Afterward, many people stood in the pews without moving, hugging and comforting one another. It took a long time before the synagogue emptied out.

Rabbi Joshua Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons
The synagogue was overflowing with people who wanted to pay their respects.
Rabbi Daniel Geffen of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor helped organize the service at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons Thursday night.
Government officials, including Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., center, and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, right, were in attendance.
Clergy of all faiths attended the service.