The condolences and the financial support — the groundswell of goodwill from all over the region, the nation and the globe — are a reassuring sign of how small hate’s footprint really is.
In Washington, D.C., Iranian graduate student and political refugee Shay Khatiri, who knows little about Pittsburgh except that 11 people were gunned down Oct 27. in one of its synagogues, started a fundraising campaign that has generated more than $1.2 million for expenses related to the tragedy.
Fundraising efforts of the Muslim community have generated more than $225,000. Duquesne University’s Pappert School of Music held a concert — “The Music of Billy Strayhorn” — on Friday and donate 100 percent of ticket proceeds to Tree of Life.
The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania is matching donations dollar for dollar up to $100,000, while the Pittsburgh Foundation pledged to match dollar for dollar, up to $150,000, donations made through pittsburghgives.org. The foundation’s beneficiaries include the Jewish Community Center; the Jewish Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh; Jewish Family and Community Services; the three congregations sharing Tree of Life; and the Fraternal Order of Police, Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, some of whose officers were wounded capturing Robert Bowers, who has been charged with attacking the synagogue because of crazy notions about Jews and refugees. Another beneficiary will be the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a target of Bowers’ social media rants.
Money is just part of the emotional public response.
Thousands of people have attended vigils to honor the dead and pray for the survivors. They’ve stood in long lines for the funerals. Companies and nonprofits have put up signs and taken out ads pledging their solidarity with the victims and the greater Jewish community.
Words and acts of support have come from around the country and overseas.
Minnesota Hillel on the University of Minnesota Campus held a vigil Oct. 28 for Pittsburgh. Annapolis, Maryland, Mayor Gavin Buckley, whose city endured the Capital Gazette shooting in June, called Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to offer his support. Annapolis was to hold a vigil for Pittsburgh on Thursday and planned to project the Star of David onto the front of city hall for 11 nights, one night for each of the 11 victims.
In Jerusalem, a message of solidarity was projected onto the Old City wall. Comforting words were offered by Pope Francis, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Hate is virulent, but the kindness and charity of good people are more powerful. Keith Kaboly, manager of the 61C Cafe in Squirrel Hill, had it right when he reflected on the police cars and ambulances that descended on the synagogue Saturday.
“One bad person,” he mused. “Thousands of people rushing to help.”