Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

As Shabbat Ends, A Wounded Pittsburgh Neighborhood Gathers To Mourn

The day that the American Jewish community experienced the most deadly anti-Semitic hate crime directed at it in the history of the United States was also Shabbat, the weekly Jewish day of rest. So when Shabbat ended at sundown in the densely Jewish town of Squirrel Hill, where a gunman killed 11 Jews at prayer, the community and its friends gathered in its central square to mark the end of the day in the most traditional Jewish way.

They celebrated “Havdalah,” or separation, the ceremony that divides the holiness of the Sabbath from the rest of the week’s ordinary days, in a service that was live-streamed on YouTube.

Havdalah “marks the end of Shabbat and the beginning of regular time,” the woman leading the service explained to the crowd after the Pittsburgh shooting. “We technically begin to move into regular time, but there will be nothing regular about it.”

She began to sing, one of the nameless melodies called “niggunim,” which anyone can join, and then moved into the service’s three prayers — over wine, spice, and light.

“Blessed art thou, O lord our God, king of the universe, the creator of light, which shines,” she sang in Hebrew, and then closed with the weekly plea for everlasting peace. “Elijah the prophet, Elijah the redeemer, quickly in our time may he come to us, with the Messiah, son of David.”

The candle was quenched in a cup of wine, and the thoughts of leader and assembled turned toward the future.

“We ask and invite and we hope and we pray that you will hold that light and take it with you,” the leader said. “As close together as we are now, and then we separate … take that light and shine it, in every dark corner.”

The crowd sang together again, and then began to chant.

“Vote! Vote! Vote!”

Contact Helen Chernikoff at [email protected] or on Twitter @thesimplechild





    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.