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November 5, 2018

Adelphi Comes Together to Stand Against Hate and Mourn Lives Lost in Pittsburgh Shooting

by Kurt Gottschalk

Tree of Life service on the Flagpole Lawn

In response to the shooting on October 27, 2018, in which 11 members of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh lost their lives, the Adelphi community came together on the evening of Monday, October 29, for a multidenominational service on the Flagpole Lawn. President Christine M. Riordan and Provost and Executive Vice President Steve Everett, D.M.A., joined a crowd of students, faculty, administration and community members to sing, pray and light candles in the evening chill.

Adelphi Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Perry Greene, Ph.D., reminded attendees of the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, who was chosen as the 2017 Adelphi Reads author, that racism is an illness. “Anti-Semitism is racism,” said Dr. Greene, adding that those gathered there were taking the first steps in doing what must be done to combat racist attacks.

“This cannot stand,” he continued, “but it will stand if we don’t do what you’re doing now—standing together.”

In a statement released that Monday, President Riordan said she was “distraught and saddened by the hateful violence that occurred this weekend” and that “We at Adelphi—a community of diversity and unity—call the act ‘senseless.’ Our hearts go out to all those harmed and affected by this attack, and we join together in condemning all acts of intolerance, hate, bigotry and violence toward others. This latest event of anti-Semitism is now a tragic reality for our Jewish friends and community members, for the Squirrel Hill and Pittsburgh communities, and for our country that endures these acts of hatred and violence too regularly these days.”

At the Adelphi memorial event, Jewish Student Union President Sara Cheris led a stirring testimony that connected the shooting in Pittsburgh to the 2016 attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, linking attacks on different populations as a single tragedy. Interfaith Center Director Wendy Badala and the Very Rev. Michael Sniffen, Protestant chaplain, also spoke at the ceremony. Nina Shumunov of the Chabad Jewish Student Group read the names of the 11 Pittsburgh victims, followed by Rabbi Glenn Jacob, D.D.’s recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish and Benediction.

Rabbi Yankel Lipsker, director of Chabad on the Garden City campus, also addressed the crowd, pointing out that Hanukkah is just over a month away and calling to mind the candle-lighting ceremonies of that holiday.

“You defeat darkness with light,” he said. “The funny thing about light is, a little bit can illuminate a whole room. Spread light to someone you would never spread light to. We talk about changing the world. It’s easy to be poetic. Go do something.”

Lipsker ended his comments with a pertinent bit of personal advice. “Call your mom; call your grandma,” he said. “This is not about the victims; this is about you. Don’t leave anything left unsaid.”

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Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

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