SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium on Saturday hosted a prayer service at the JCC of Central New Jersey in memory of the 11 people killed by a gunman at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last weekend.
"We turn hate into love when we turn others into friends," said Rabbi Joel Abraham of Temple Sholom, a past president of the Scotch Plains/Fanwood Ministerium. "We start by knowing the people around us, by talking not only to our neighbor, but to the person who is two streets over or in the 'other' neighborhood ... Before you leave tonight learn the names of the people around you — learn the names of the living, before we have to remember the names of the dead."
"The most important thing is to come together in one common cause and to show that nothing separates us. We are lucky we have such an incredibly strong Ministerium," said Cantor Matt Axelrod of Congregation Beth Israel. "This will continue at the interfaith Thanksgiving service on Monday, Nov. 19 , at CBI at 7:30 p.m.
Rabbi Howard Tilman of CBI said that Saturday evening's prayer service was important important because "hatred against one group is against any group."
"When lives are lost, we need to show that it is not acceptable," Rabbi Tilman said. "That voice needs to come from one community."
The service brought people of many different faiths together.
"I came to support and give my condolences to the Jewish community," said Yussuf Ali, a Fanwood resident.
"It is important to combat division and hatred which has been on the rise in our nation," said David Janke, pastor of Fanwood Presbyterian Church. "It is important to promote peace and love among our many diverse people."
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr believes it is important for entire Scotch Plains-Fanwood community to stand together with the Jewish community.
"This is very personal to our residents," she said.
"I’m upset about recent events. I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome," said Elizabeth Stamler of Scotch Plains. "Coming together tonight shows we are all one."
"Last week’s tragedy was very painful and sharing a few moments with the community helps everyone," said Josh Losardo, also of Scotch Plains. "We must work harder so events like that do not reoccur."
The service included the Havdalah separation to celebrate end of Sabbath.