Phoenix Vigil Planned For Victims Of Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Funeral services for some of the victims of Saturday's attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh are being held today. On Sunday night, Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers called for stopping "words of hate.”
JEFFREY MEYERS: "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."
GOLDSTEIN: And as a display of solidarity with Pittsburgh's Jewish community, a vigil is taking place tonight in Phoenix at the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center. Among the groups organizing the event or taking part, the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, the Valley Interfaith Project and the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona (ADL). With me to talk about it is Carlos Galindo-Elvira, who is the regional director for the ADL of Arizona. Carlos, I know you're hoping that non-Jewish members of the community will attend tonight. What sort of tone are you hoping for — somber and hopeful?
CARLOS GALINDO-ELVIRA: I think it has to be a mixture of both — certainly one of reflection and sorrow, but also one of hopefulness and looking forward in joining together as a community to combat anti-Semitism in all forms of hatred.
GOLDSTEIN: There’s certainly been discussion that over the past couple of years we have seen — at least people more willing to be public — about anti-Semitism and racism. Have you seen more concerns that there are people who are more public about this, and does that require even more vigilance because maybe there's an even greater need to be vigilant?
GALINDO-ELVIRA: Well, certainly there needs to be more vigilance in the cyber world. And that's one of the things the ADL is working on, in fact having an office in Silicon Valley to work with social media platforms to tone down the hateful anti-Semitic rhetoric and statements and memes that you see online. But, it begins neighbor to neighbor, it begins community to community and it begins by coming together — much like what we're going to do tonight by bringing all types of people together to become one community.
GOLDSTEIN: Are people brought more together as a community when something tragic like this happens? When it does happen — when people come together after something like this — how do you make it sustainable —because there's a fear of amongst some that we get numb to things like this.
GALINDO-ELVIRA: We can't normalize these types of tragic incidents. We can't normalize hate or the use of a swastika. We can't normalize hateful rhetoric. But what we can do is engage each other more and continue that relationship way past a tragic incident — and really begin to focus on whether those types of projects, those types of dialogues that need to happen that bring people together — and really make a commitment to do it. That it's not a one day event where we choose to talk to each other or to engage with each other, but that is every day every time.
GOLDSTEIN: So, the event tonight is at 7:00 at the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center. That's in downtown Phoenix. Any the other sort of basic information we should know?
GALINDO-ELVIRA: Bring your willingness to greet others. Bring your good thoughts for the people of Pittsburgh. And bring an open hand to be able to shake somebody else's hand, and then make it happen every day.
GOLDSTEIN: Do you want there to almost feel like there's an action plan coming out of it for people to again sort of retain this togetherness? Is there some sort of spirit that you almost want people to take out of this event when they go home?
GALINDO-ELVIRA: Well, we never want people to forget the tragic incident that has to be important to all of us. But we also want people to be inspired by the vigils, and many vigils that are happening around the community too. You know we're going to light a candle tonight, so how do we keep that flame going and build on it throughout the community.
GOLDSTEIN: Carlos Galindo-Elvira is regional director for the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona. Again, tonight's event at the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center in downtown Phoenix begins tonight at 7:00. Carlos, thanks for the time today.
GALINDO-ELVIRA: Thank you.