High security, high attendance at Chapel Hill vigil for Tree of Life victims

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Three days after the massacre hundreds of miles away in Pittsburgh, at the Kehillah Synagogue, was a space to grieve in Chapel Hill.

"Our hearts are breaking," said Rabbi Jen Feldman of Kehillah who invited leaders and neighbors of all faiths to hear her words, and to rise up after the massacre at Tree of Life with the knowledge that hate will not win. "It also strengthens our resolve to live proudly as Jews and to link with people of all faiths and traditions to stand up against hatred in all its forms."

That sense of unity after the hate-filled tragedy was felt in the back of the temple.

Darren Cubell brought his 16-year-old daughter Megan; this is their temple. They also invited their neighbor Catherine Neal who is a Christian. The three mourned together, and they all said they left more hopeful.

"(The shooting) really hit me, it made me really sad because I'm Jewish," Megan Cubell said. "And then I thought about it - I was like there are so many others; all these people here from different communities, the Islam community, the African-American community, the Christian community who go through this all the time."

Catherine Neal was touched by the message from speakers that God can turn what happened in Pittsburgh into good. "I belong to a Christian church and I just feel very strongly that we needed to come out in full force and offer our love," she said.

Imam Abdullah Antepli, one of the many interfaith leaders at the service, told ABC11, "It's a wake-up call for all of us. If we give in to the despair and hopelessness of the moment, these evil forces behind these shootings will win."

Attendance Tuesday night was high and so was security. Uniformed Chapel Hill police officers stood guard outside. Everyone who entered the sanctuary was asked to sign in, give their e-mail address, and wear a white sticker.

"It's the world we live in. However, we adapt. And I'm not saying it makes it right but we have to adapt and be vigilant," Darren Cubell said about the beefed up security at his place of worship.

Rabbi Feldman added, "America is land founded on religious freedom. No faith community should be told that in order to pray they need an armed guard. "And every community of faith does what is necessary to keep its community safe."

Those who attended the vigil came to take a stand against hatred.

They did so figuratively and literally.

Six-hundred and seventy-five people signed in at the door.

It was standing room only.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.