Temple B’rith Kodesh. Sunday night 10/28/18 [Except where indicated, photos by David Kramer]
For Yom Kippur, the auditorium in the Temple B’rith Kodesh on 2131 Elmwood Avenue in Brighton has a seating capacity of about 3,000. Some additional seats can be added for really special events, like when Senator John F. Kennedy spoke in 1959. Tonight, close to 4,000 people from all faiths crammed into the auditorium for a vigil mourning the eleven dead of a Squirrel Hill synagogue in Pittsburgh. A young Islamic woman, Samiha, told the gathering a hate-filled attack on Judaism is an attack on Islam.
Living only five minutes from the Temple, I’ve been there many times for lectures, craft festivals and RCSD meetings. The first time was in 1977 for my friend Dean Tucker’s Bar Mitzvah. Recently, the Temple provided me with the Kennedy picture. And Rabbi Peter Stein gave me Torahnical advice on what to do with found money.
Never before have I seen the entire Temple lot so filled, never before have I seen the Brighton Town Hall so filled with cars as people parked and walked across Elmwood — itself in stop and go traffic — to the Temple. The parked cars filled half of the left side of the closest street, Vernon, as if it were a high school graduation party. Even Bonnie Brae, two streets over, had a dozen or so cars on a stretch that would normally be empty on a quiet Sunday night.
By the time I arrived, it was standing room only. Those nearly 4,000 gathered to mourn what some have called the worst assault ever upon American Jewry.¹
1. Recently, anti-Semitic white supremacist stickers were posted across Brighton. While the stickers do not, of course, rise to the level of the Squirrel Hill atrocity, they are troubling.
NOTE: I received this from Lois Tucker, a member of B’rith Kodesh:
I saw you there tonight, but couldn’t get your attention…a very moving event. Although I was late, I finally got a seat in the balcony.Traffic was backed up on Elmwood from 590. People were walking down Elmwood from 12 Corners. I had to turn off Elmwood and travel a round about route and ended up parking on Eastland, further up the block than I usually do for Yom Kippur.
I love that you mentioned Dean’s [her son] Bar Mitzvah. His daughter, Laura, now lives in Pittsburgh and was attending Temple yesterday, less than a mile from the massacre and was in a lockdown situation like the rest of the area. Fortunately she was safe, but very shaken by the event. We are all very upset about the violence and chaos in our country.
The uplifting response at B’rith Kodesh is a reminder of the rally against anti-Semitism last winter at the Twelve Corners Memorial Park in Brighton. Then, people of all faiths gathered to condemn anti-Semitism (see below).
For the second time in six months, the Twelve Corners in Brighton was a place of hope and solidarity. In October, we gathered in the town square for an anti-racism vigil. See An anti-racism vigil and Black Lives Matter signs in Brighton
Yesterday, in the wake of the desecration of Jewish graves on Stone Road and two bomb threats at the Jewish Community Center, several hundred people stood in solidarity against hate crimes at a Rally Against Anti-Semitism.
While the event organizers, Hannah Brown and Milo Lomi, are Jewish, the rally was designed to bring together a diversity of groups and social justice activists. As members of the Anti-Fascist League, Hannah and Milo are especially concerned about the upsurge of white supremacist activity in our area.
Brighton has both thriving Jewish and Muslim communities, and it was inspirational to see so many members of the Muslim community at the Twelve Corners in solidarity. Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle had that morning been at the JCC lending support. Bill said that when the JCC was threatened, members of the Islamic Center in Brighton immediately called him, asking how they could help.
On Sunday we saw what can happen when people of good will gather to condemn hate.
Filmmaker Mara Ahmed spoke at the event and explains the message of the rally:
We are in this together, so if there is any kind of hate crime, if there is any kind of attack against the Jewish community, the Muslim community, the LGBTQ community, we are in it together and this is a very public way of making this statement.
Mara also offered a photo album