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Oberlin College students, others unite against hate

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    Oberlin College students hold candles at the Oberlin Community Vigil in Solidarity with Victims of the Kentucky and Pittsburgh shootings Friday at Oberlin College.


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    Julia Berrebi, front, Hadassa Elkan and Jaris Owens hold candles at the Oberlin Community Vigil in Solidarity with Victims of the Kentucky and Pittsburgh shootings, at Oberlin College Nov. 2.


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    Rabbi Shlomo Elkan. co-Director of Chabad at Oberlin, speaks at Oberlin Community Vigil at Oberlin College, Nov. 2.



OBERLIN — The names echoed above the crowd of nearly 200 keeping vigil inside Peters Hall at Oberlin College:

Joyce Fienberg. Richard Gottfried. Rose Mallinger. Jerry Rabinowitz. Cecil Rosenthal. David Rosenthal. Bernice Simon. Sylvan Simon. Daniel Stein. Melvin Wax. Irving Younger.

One by one, organizers of Friday’s Oberlin Community Sunset Vigil read in both English and Hebrew the names of 11 Jewish worshipers killed in the Oct. 27 mass shooting during Shabbat, or Sabbath, morning services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

There were prayers in Hebrew, as some held candles in remembrance of those lost, sniffled quietly or embraced each other for comfort.

Speakers also called upon the community to remember Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, shot dead Oct. 24 inside a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, in what police have said was a hate crime.

College officials, organizers from multiple student groups and guests decried “acts of hate” against black, Jewish, LGBTQ, immigrant and other communities across the world, they said.

“A hate crime against one of us is a hate crime against all of us,” said Maryam Ghazala, of the Muslim Students Association.

Speakers urged the Oberlin community to come together and care for each other and offer solace to the grieving, and asked allies to continue to show support for minority groups even after the vigil was long over.

Vigil attendees were asked to “vote for those who will stand up to those who would fan the flames of bigotry and hate.”

“It is the extravagant welcome of strangers that will ultimately defeat hate,” Cindy Chapman, professor of religion at Oberlin, promised the crowd.

Rabbi Shlomo Elkan, co-director of the Chabad at Oberlin Jewish community center and outreach, told the crowd not just to mourn the loss and honor the souls of the dead, but to “reveal the light of a new day.”

“Let there be light and let the people be the light,” he said.

College President Carmen Twillie Ambar said she was proud of what she saw at Friday’s vigil.

“This is important work,” she told the gathering. “I’m grateful to be part of a community that would do this.”

He asked those who gathered to find commonness and connection, not division or hatred, and to “be awake to your own community.”

“What you know to be right awakens us to our role in the world,” Ambar said.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’ Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.

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