The College of Charleston’s Jewish Student Union/Hillel and Student Government Association held a memorial service on Nov. 2. The service honored the 11 people who died, and others who were injured including police, when a gunman opened fire inside Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 27. Many student groups and interfaith leaders attended the service in support of the Charleston Jewish community.
At approximately 5:00 p.m. the service began with a song. It’s lyrics, “Open my eyes to truth, open my hands to give freely, open my arms to love” immediately drew tears from attendees who packed into Arnold Hall at The College’s Yashick Arnold Jewish Studies Center.
SGA President, Tripp Keeffe gave the service’s opening remarks. In a showing of immediate support Keeffe said to Jewish students and community members, “We are here for you.” In addition, Keeffe stated, “No act of hatred can ever drive us apart,” and, “love is stronger than hate.”
Following Keeffe’s opening remarks, Samantha Krantz, President of CofC’s Jewish Student Union/Hillel addressed the service’s attendees. Krantz warned that Jews “cannot continue to be fearful of being Jewish.”
The service continued with representatives from 11 student groups memorializing the victims of the shooting. Each representative lit a memorial candle and recited a brief bio of each victim. The 11 student groups who participated in the service are:
- Charleston Miracle
- Charleston Israel Coalition
- Black Student Union
- The Citadel Hillel
- Jewish Life/Office of Admissions
- Charleston Young Life
- Student Government Association
- Diversity Council
- Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity
- National Pan-Hellenic Council
- Sigma Delta Tau Sorority
Subsequent to the candle lighting, the service concluded with two Hebrew prayers. One to honor the dead, and the other to ask for healing.
After the service Krantz said the vigil on Sunday inspired her to organize an event for The College. She asked, “What can we do?” and said she “reached out to the board and to Tripp” who was “already thinking” about an event in support of the Jewish community.
Krantz want the Jewish community to understand that, “We are not alone.” The room packed full of support for the community made Krantz’s “heart happy.” Krantz said, “We are proud to be Jewish. We are here for them and they are here for us. We appreciate the support.”