Community Maplewood South Orange

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Building a World From Love — Not Hate — in South Orange and Maplewood

“I will build this world from love. And you will build this world from love. And if we build this world from love, then we can build this world,” a crowd sang — first in English, then in Hebrew — in South Orange this evening.

Hundreds flooded South Orange’s tiny Spiotta Park on this brisk evening as local residents looked for communal heeling after the ravaging events of the past week: A gunman killed 11 worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and another gunman shot and killed two people at a supermarket in Kentucky (the two victims were African American). Both shooting incidents are being investigated as hate crimes.

The evening was filled with song, prayer and speeches. But the speeches were not just about healing; some were also unashamedly political. “Tonight I’m here as an American, as a Jew, as a rabbi, to say, ‘Enough,'” said Rabbi Daniel Cohen of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange. “Enough guns. Enough hateful rhetoric. Enough abdication of leadership from those who were elected to serve all Americans…. There is no resistance. There are simply American citizens exercising our Constitutional right to speak out.” He decried the “culture of hatred that is being fueled at the highest levels of our government.”

Cohen called for “sane gun laws, respectful discourse and a rule of law that is tempered by compassion.”

“We are not the resistance. We are Americans… We are sick of it. And we vote.”

Speakers at Spiotta Park this evening also included South Orange Village President Sheena Collum, Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El, Rabbi Mark Cooper of Oheb Shalom Congregation, and the Rev Brenda Wheeler Ehlers of Morrow Church — among others.

The vigil was organized by Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis and SOMA Action’s Marcia Bloomberg.

Photos by Matt Peyton.

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