Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was conducting a Shabbat service at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue as the attack was carried out, has given an emotional vigil speech, where he urged political leaders to “stop the words of hate”.
He said: “I’m a victim, I’m a survivor, I’m a mourner, so god, why us? Why couldn’t he turn his car a different direction?
“I began services at 945, the shooting started a few minutes after, there were 12 of us in the sanctuary at that time and as is customary in the Jewish faith – and I’ve also see it in other faiths – all the early people come and sit in the back. I helped pull out the people that I could from the front, but alas I had eight people in the back, one fortunately survived, seven of my congregants were shot dead in my sanctuary, my holy place has been defiled.
“I thought to myself the 23rd psalm, ‘the lord is my shepherd, I shall not want’, well god, I want. What I want you can’t give me, you can’t return these 11 beautiful souls.
“At the end of Noah, god says: “I recognise that from his youth, man is prone to evil, what a depressing thought. Isn’t there a chance for good? The answer is yes there is, you don’t have to follow the prone to evil path, we can also be prone to good if you decide to take that path.
“It starts with speech, words of hate are unwelcome in Pittsburgh. It starts with everyone in this room and I want to address for a moment some of our political leaders who are here. Ladies and gentlemen, it has to start with you as our leaders, stop the words of hate, my mother also taught me if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing.
“If it comes from you, Americans will listen, but let’s not forget one really important thing, independent of what happens tonight, independent of what any of our elected officials choose to do from here on, it’s us, we, the people.”