Rochester synagogue remembers victims of anti-semitism

It hosts its annual Holocaust Memorial service on Sunday, just one day after a shooting at a synagogue in San Diego leaves one dead and three others injured.

Posted: Apr 28, 2019 10:47 PM
Updated: Apr 29, 2019 4:57 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Through moments of silence, song, and the reading of names, the B’nai Israel Synagogue has been holding its Holocaust memorial service, or Yom Hashoah Observance service, for over the past 10 years.

They light six candles to remember the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, when Germany was under Nazi regime.

But this year they’re also remembering one more Jewish person who lost her life on Saturday for the same reason Holocaust victims died all those years ago, because she was Jewish.

“Again, that's all I thought. can't even be surprised anymore,” Rabbi Michelle Werner said.

The shooting at a synagogue in San Diego on Saturday comes just six months after 11 Jewish people died at another synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

Since then, Rabbi Werner said they err on the side of caution. Rochester Police provided security during the memorial service on Sunday.

“We've watched as society allow sacred space and the act of prayer to come under assault. So, it's our obligation to create safety and security in these places by remembering,” she said.

The uncertainty is being felt down to the youngest members of the congregation.

“History is repeating and it's terrible,” 12-year-old Benjamin Hargraves said.

“I felt sad and really, really nervous to come here today,” he said when asked about the San Diego shooting.
Still, he came and participated in the memorial service.

Rabbi Werner said she’s received condolences from the Muslim community in town, and other faiths attended Sunday’s Service.

Rabbi Werner was also at a peace vigil after a mosque shooting in New Zealand, saying faiths must come together against violence.

“If we don't stand with one another, then we all go down alone,” she said.

The community is mourning, but asking for change.

“We move on, we move forward, we continue,” Hargraves said.

“We will outlive hatred, but that's not enough. If we can't overcome the darkest part of our hearts that allows these diseases to spread, then as a race, as humanity, we're doomed,” Rabbi Werner said.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton was also in attendance at Sunday’s service. She read a proclamation declaring the week of Sunday, April 28 to Sunday May 5, as days of remembrance for Holocaust victims.

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