Archbishop Rodi among religious leaders who spoke at Mobile synagogue
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
MOBILE — Hundreds of people of various faiths and backgrounds did their best to be beacons of light during a time of darkness.
Those with heavy hearts filled the Ahavas Chesed Synagogue in Mobile on Oct. 30 for a vigil and candlelight procession only three days after 11 people were killed in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi was among religious leaders and political/law enforcement figures who spoke to the congregation. He encouraged all to bring light to the world.
“We gather here in the darkness of this evening and we pray. We carry many intentions in our prayers. May we remember this intention – that in this world where there is such darkness, let us pray that we be light,” Archbishop Rodi said. “May we speak and may we act in ways that bring a light into our world. The light that sees the dignity of all. The light which seeks to bring together, rather than to drive apart. The darkness cannot overcome the light. May we be light and encourage others to be a light as well.”
All 11 victims were Jewish and middle-aged or elderly.
It’s believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
“Such a tragedy is only possible when we do not look upon each other as members of the same human family,” Archbishop Rodi said. “… I know little about those who were killed in this horrific act. But this I know – they were like me, they were like you. They got up every morning and went about their daily tasks. They laughed and they cried, they had successes and they had failures. They had hopes and they faced challenges. They prayed. Within their circles of friends and among their loved ones, their lives were bright lights. They loved, they cared and now their lights are extinguished.”
One large, diverse family came together at the Ahavas Chesed Synagogue.
This was not lost on Rabbi Steven Silberman of Ahavas Chesed Synagogue, who spoke in his opening remarks of the love that filled the synagogue.
“We are truly overwhelmed by all the cars (in the parking lot), by all the love that’s in this room,” Rabbi Silberman said. “For all of you, for each one of you, for each one of us to set aside time and bring caring into the broken world is more spiritually compelling than any other element of life itself.
“The capacity of changing the world from a world of fear and hopelessness into a world of light and redemption comes forth from love, from service, from devotion, from caring. And that is what is so evident here, so much more powerful than a choice by a person to bring wickedness and cruelty and hate and destruction into our world.”
Others who spoke included Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, U.S. Attorney Richard Moore, FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell, Chief Clay Godwin of the Mobile Police Department, Dr. Buz Wilcoxon of Spring Hill Presbyterian Church, Iman Ron Ali of Mobile Masjid of Al-Islam, Rev. Dr. Joy Blaylock of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Springhill Avenue Temple President Michael Pereira and Dr. Jonathan Fratkin of Springhill Avenue Temple and Pastor Ellen Sims of Open Table United Church of Christ.
“You are adding indescribable holiness to this synagogue and every synagogue, every church, every mosque, every house of worship here and beyond these precincts because of your presence here,” Rabbi Silberman said. “The love, the caring and the respect and the sense of humanity is contagious.”