In the wake of the worst attack on Israel’s gay community in the country’s history, San Franciscans added their voices as people in cities around the world came together to protest homophobia and stand in solidarity with the victims.
Nir Katz, a 26 year old counselor, and Liz Trubeshi, 16, were killed and at least ten others were wounded when a masked gunman opened fire on an LGBT youth support group in Tel Aviv, Israel, this weekend. Israeli authorities are still searching for the shooter as the most liberal city in Israel mourns the tragedy.
Halfway across the globe, in what is often called the most liberal city in America, San Franciscans gathered Tuesday evening at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav to pray for the dead, the wounded, and the stunned LGBT community of Tel Aviv. The group of about 100 marched from the synagogue to the San Francisco LGBT Center to attend a candlelight vigil.
Gayle Roberts, Development Director of the LGBT center, told the story of the creation of the Center 15 years ago, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and noted that an attack in what is sometimes the only safe space for LGBT youth is especially tragic. “Let’s put an end to this hate, this violence, and this pain,” she urged.
If anyone understands the necessity of safe spaces for LGBT youth, it is Ashley Perreira, a 19 year old Peer Support Counselor at SF LGBT’s Youth Space. Perreira spoke of sending a message across the globe: “To the people of Tel Aviv, may our prayers enter their hearts and ease their sorrows… I hope we can give them all the justice they deserve.”
The crowd of LGBT and Jewish community members and their allies included local civic leaders. Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who helped to organize the vigil, praised the attendance of his colleagues, including Supervisor David Campos. “As a city, we stand against this,” he declared. “This is a crime that strikes at all of us.”
Many speakers noted the global nature of the fight against homophobia, as simultaneous vigils occurred in Washington, DC, Berlin, Dallas, Jerusalem, London, Los Angeles, New York, and many other cities.
Jessica Trubowitch, Director of Intergroup Relations for the Jewish Community Relations Council, declared, “We join voices around the world in denouncing hate and homophobia…while we mourn those we’ve lost, we offer our support to those in Tel Aviv… we will not stop fighting.”
As the evening grew darker, candles lit the faces in the crowd.
Rabbi Camille Angel concluded the vigil with a recitation of the mourners’ Kaddish, an Aramaic prayer that describes thanks for G-d. “Even when the sadness and tragedy grips us, and we might want to offer curses… we must thank G-d for life,” explained Rabbi Angel.
After the close of the Kaddish, the crowd moved inside the LGBT Center to pay their respects through the Jewish tradition of placing pebbles on the memorial of photographs, candles, and flowers, and signing a book of condolence messages to be sent to the Tel Aviv LGBT Center.