Hundreds Gather in Dallas for Victims of Synagogue Shooting

Faith leaders from religions all over North Texas took part in the vigil

After Saturday's shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Jewish community in North Texas coped with a national tragedy by vowing to worship without fear.

Sunday evening, an estimated 900 people gathered inside Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas for a vigil.

"Eleven innocent lives, who were in what should have been the safest place there is, were taken from us by hatred," Bradley Laye, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas told NBC 5.

Rabbis, Christian ministers and Muslim imams prayed together, affirming an attack on one faith is an attack on all.

"We believe no one should be afraid to enter in a house of worship," said Rev. Rachel Baughman, senior pastor at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church and Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square. "We also believe sensible gun policies should be in place that respect gun ownership, but limit weapons of war being put in the hands of those who might turn them on us."

"I'm no expert in policies that could have prevented yesterday's massacre or those that came before it. I don't know the gun laws we should or shouldn't have, if we need more armed guards or not," Laye told vigil attendees. "I don't know what levers we need to pull and in exactly in what order and what scheme to prevent these attacks. Our charge tonight is to learn that."

"We then must lobby and vote on those issues like our lives depended on it because they do," Laye said as many in attendance stood and applauded.

Laye also said mental health resources need to be expanded and called on everyone listening to confront hatred.

"When you see a racist post on Facebook or Instagram or a tweet on Twitter, say something," Laye told attendees. "When you see a child being indoctrinated with something as simple as an anti-semitic joke, say something."

"When you experience a hateful person verbally accosting someone who is 'other' in the line of a grocery store or Starbucks, don't stand by. Intercede, stand up and say something," Laye said.

"We stand with you and we will protect you," said Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall. "You are not alone."

Earlier in the day, other congregations said they increased security, but continued with planned events.

At Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, the annual Fall Festival brought families to the grounds to support the Temple Emanu-El Early Childhood Education Center.

"There is nothing more powerful to me than being here," said Rabbi Amy Ross, Temple Emanu-El Director of Learning and Innovation, who came with her 4-year-old daughter. "I couldn't imagine being anywhere else and with any other group of people on this day, the day after such tragedy yesterday."

"In the face of darkness, in the face of death, doing what we're doing today is exactly what we should be doing," said Temple Emanu-El President Mike Sims. "Celebrating life, doing so in the light of a beautiful day, and saying we will not be scared into our homes but we will come together as a community."

Ross said age-appropriate observances were offered in Sunday School for the children. She said faculty were encouraged to have conversations with students about what happened.

In her own home, she said she and her husband offered an explanation to their young daughters.

"Every person has inside of them a piece of God and this particular day, someone forgot that we all have pieces of God inside of us," she said.

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