SMC Student and Campus Leaders Hold Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Victims

(left to right) Rabbi Eli Levitansky of Chabad, Eli Nazarian, Eliana Lieberman, Kayla Melamed, Chabad at SMC President Liora Rabizadeh, SMC Police Chief Johnnie Adams, Associated Students President Isabel Rodriguez, Associate Dean of Student Life Dr. Nancy Grass, Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Tuitasi, and SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. The group lit candles at the interfaith prayer vigil on the SMC main campus held Tuesday, October 30 in memory of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims.

Rev. Eric Shafer of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica was among religious leaders to participate in an interfaith prayer vigil held on the SMC main campus on Tuesday, October 30 in memory of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims.

Rabbi Eli Levitansky of Chabad leads the interfaith prayer vigil with readings and prayers from Jewish scripture. Also seen are Rev. Eric Shafer of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, and SMC student Mustafa Abdulla Seth of the Muslim Student Association, both of whom offered messages of solidarity and love from their respective scriptures.

Roughly 200 Santa Monica College students and employees gathered on the SMC quad for the interfaith prayer vigil on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

SMC Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Tuitasi (left) and students fill out messages to be pinned on the “Wall of Goodness and Kindness”. The messages spoke of an intention through which the writer would “spread light.”

October 30, 2018

SANTA MONICA, CA—The Associated Students (AS) of Santa Monica College (SMC) along with the SMC Chabad Club and the SMC Office of Student Life organized an interfaith prayer vigil and service honoring the memory of the 11 Jews who were gunned down at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday, October 27. Roughly 200 SMC students and employees gathered in the SMC main campus quad for the impromptu event held at 12 noon on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Rabbi Eli Levitansky of Chabad of Santa Monica; the Rev. Eric Shafer, Senior Pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica; SMC student Mustafa Abdulla Seth of the Muslim Student Association; and Ira Roohani of the Santa Monica Baha’i Center participated, sharing messages of solidarity—derived mostly from the scripture of their respective faiths—against hate, and speaking of love, comfort and peace.

AS President Isabel Rodriguez read out the names of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims and led the crowd in a moment of silence. She stated that the service also honored the memory of the two victims who lost their lives in a Kroger grocery store shooting in Jefferson, Kentucky on Oct. 24.

Rabbi Levitansky led the student and campus leaders in a ceremonial lighting of candles in memory of the victims. SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery shared with the audience a message she had sent to friends and colleagues in the wake of the news.

“I was stunned that, yet again, another community had been targeted by . . . another senseless act of hatred, bigotry, and careless disregard for human life,” she said. “I am saddened that you are touched in any way by this act of hate and violence . . . we have so much work to do to bridge divides of all kinds. However, I am convinced [that] the task, though daunting, is doable. We are together in this world we share. Some of us like that fact more than others. May we all be protected and guided safely on our journey forward. We still have so much good to accomplish.”

After the service, many of those present pinned messages on a “Wall of Goodness and Kindness”, which spoke of an intention to spread light through ways such as an act of kindness and the lighting of Shabbat candles. Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

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