A community vigil honoring the memories of the 11 people who were killed by a gunman at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday has been moved to a new location in South Portland to accommodate what organizers say could be a large crowd.

The vigil on Tuesday was originally scheduled for the Jewish Community Alliance on Congress Street in Portland, but a message posted on the JCA’s website said the event has been moved to Congregation Bet Ha’am, 81 Westbrook St., in South Portland’s Thornton Heights neighborhood.

“In response to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, we invite all to join us for a public vigil for peace, hope and memory. All are welcome,” the message states.

More than 300 people have indicated on Congregation Bet Ha’am’s Facebook page that they plan to attend the vigil and nearly 1,000 have expressed interest in doing so. The vigil starts at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Rabbis and communal leaders will speak at the event. No backpacks will be allowed and there will be a police presence.

Saturday’s “crimes, committed during a holy day and in a sacred space, remind us of the virulence of anti-Semitism,” the Jewish Community Alliance said in a message posted on its website. “In the days and weeks to come, we welcome all members of our community, Jewish and non-Jewish, to join in solidarity to fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of bias, discrimination and hate.”

The Maine Council of Churches, in a post on its Facebook page, also condemned the massacre, which was orchestrated by a gunman police identified as Robert Bowers. He is in police custody.

“Over the past two years we have witnessed a disturbing increase in anti-Semitic bias incidents and hate crimes, and this morning’s shooting represents a horrifically predictable escalation along that despicable path as hate groups become more vocal, visible and violent,” the council wrote in a message posted Saturday.

 


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