As the music crescendoed, the more than 1,500 people gathered in Minnesota’s largest synagogue on Sunday afternoon began to sway and clap in unison, some pausing to wipe tears.
Together, they rose from their seats, singing over and over again — louder each time — “May the one who makes peace in the high heavens make peace for us, for the whole Jewish people and for all who dwell on Earth.”
The song continued as people of all ages and faiths filed out of Temple Israel after an hourlong service held amid tight security in Minneapolis. It began with a moment of silence and ended with a call for harmony and healing after an anti-Semitic shooting in Pittsburgh the day before. “We know that the antidote to this violence can’t stop at increased security,” said Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman of Temple Israel.
“We didn’t want to be in a defensive mode; we wanted to move into a healing and joyful mode.”
That resilience was felt in the sanctuary Sunday, despite increased security and several somber moments, which included reading aloud the names of the 11 killed in a crowded Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday.
The suspect, Robert Gregory Bowers, has been charged.
At the service’s scheduled start time, a line of people still wrapped around the block, waiting for their bags to be searched before entering the packed sanctuary, which has a capacity of about 1,000.
Several officers stood inside and outside the synagogue during the service.
After news of the shooting broke Saturday, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas scrambled to help Jewish leaders coordinate extra security at temples and other places community members might gather.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office began patrolling Jewish places of worship and organizations in the area with increased frequency Saturday night.
Gov. Mark Dayton announced Sunday afternoon that all U.S. flags and Minnesota flags are to be flown at half-staff at state and federal buildings in Minnesota, effective immediately.
Echoing a proclamation from President Donald Trump, flags will be lowered until sunset Wednesday.
Zimmerman said some of the first texts she received Saturday were from local law enforcement officials, followed by clergy members from other faiths.
“I am just very stirred,” she said. “I’m sad but also fueled by the warmth of support of this whole community.”
During the service, more than 40 clergy members from a variety of faiths joined local rabbis at the front of the sanctuary.
Together, the faith leaders read Psalm 121, which says that God will provide protection for those who trust him.
“It was very moving,” said Cantor Tamar Havilio, who is on sabbatical from the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. After anti-Semitic attacks there, the Jewish community gathers to mourn and pray, she said. Looking out over the sanctuary, Havilio worked to hold back emotion as she watched — and felt — 1,500 voices fill it with prayer.
For Marilyn Weisberg, a Temple Israel member for more than 40 years, Sunday’s message echoed a core tenet for the Jewish community.
“We always pray for peace,” she said. “Our peace was interrupted, but not for long. We will keep praying.”
Ruth Knelman agreed. At 108, she said she wouldn’t have missed the service for the world.
“It was really touching,” she said.
For Carrie Bloomfield, a member of the Bet Shalom congregation in Minnetonka, attending the service offered a bit of solace.
“Since [Saturday], I felt I haven’t seen a light yet,” she said as she walked out of Temple Israel, the jubilant worship music continuing. “This was it. We all needed this.”