Wednesday, October 31, 2018 - His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America, joined His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America, among other Orthodox hierarchs and clergy, together with other distinguished religious leaders in the Park East Synagogue, in a memorial event titled “United Against Hate,” an inter-religious gathering of Leaders in solidarity with Pittsburgh and the victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
“This is a gathering of brothers and sisters coming and sitting together in peace,” said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, himself a holocaust survivor, who led the event and is the founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and Senior Rabbi of the Park East Synagogue, cosponsors of the event.
Michael Peterson, on behalf of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation presented the program as a children’s choir sang “A prayer for Peace.” Rabbi Arthur Schneier spoke of the present very painful time in our country and of the holocaust, of which he is a survivor. He memorialized the victims of Pittsburgh and thanked all the religious and political leaders present for their solidarity, saying “you stand with us and we stand with you. . . if we stand together, united we prevail, divided we fail. United we can guarantee our security and freedom.”
Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, who spoke next, mentioned the growing number of incidents of anti-Semitism and the alarming signs of neo-Nazism, xenophobia and racism. Following the Secretary General and offering messages of condolence, solidarity and peace were Archbishop Auza, the Papal Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Vatican to the United Nations; His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York; the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, Dean of the Cathedral of St John the Divine; the Very Rev. Archimandrite Daniel (Findikyan), Diocesan Primate for the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; Sheikh Musa Drammeh, Chairman of the Islamic Cultural Center of North America; and the Consul General of Israel in New York, Ambassador Dani Dayan.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America said that “no proper words can express my sorrow and that of the Greek Orthodox Community in the United States,” and reiterated the unequivocal condemnation for the acts of hate, evil and violence. The Archbishop talked about his personal connection with the “Tree of Life Synagogue” back in 1965, and then added that the Pittsburgh massacre brought back very bitter memories from the Summer of 1944, when during the Nazi occupation of Thessaloniki, Greece; close to 60,000 Jews, friends, classmates and neighbors were forcefully loaded to trains for a horrendous trip which ended in the crematoria of Auschwitz.
Also present at the gathering were other religious leaders, political and diplomatic dignitaries, law enforcement members and community representatives. Young Jewish students donning “United Against Hate” T-shirts opened the event with a musical tribute, “A Prayer for Peace” and concluded with “God, Bless America”.