Candlelight vigil held for Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims

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The community came together for a vigil at Chabad Jewish Community Center following the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday.

The massacre capped off a week of violence in the United States, including two black men shot in Kentucky and 14 pipe bombs sent to prominent Democratic leaders in the mail.

The vigil featured 11 candles for the 11 lives lost at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

“It’s really wonderful to see that even as far away as Bakersfield, we all have a heart for this tragedy and for its victims,” said Rabbi Cheryl Rosenstein.

“We’ll inspire each other in saying no to such hatred,” said Rabbi Shmuli Schlanger.

The rabbis preached kindness, imploring the community to denounce xenophobia–contrary to how the Kentucky and Pittsburgh gunmen espoused racist views across social media.

“I call upon all citizens of Bakersfield, a pledge to confront heinous acts and expressions of hatred,” said Mayor Karen Goh.

On the other side of town, a new group came together to have a productive discussion on controversial, divisive issues such as race, religion, and politics. They call themselves Common Ground.

“Society now is becoming more and more isolated and more and more tribal. People don’t want to come to the table and converse with each other,” said Common Ground founder Josh Armstrong. “So that anger just kind of builds up, and it expresses itself in a lot of harmful ways–sometimes social media, but sometimes actual violence–people hurting each other, people killing each other. We feel like a really good way to build bridges is to just come together and learn to share your opinions in a constructive way.”

Common Ground meets every Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. and is open to the public. To join, you can message them on Facebook or email joshuamarmstrong@gmail.com.

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