‘Love is stronger than death’: A community in mourning gathers resolve


Photo courtesy of Rhodes College

Students, faculty and staff gather resolve following the recent synagogue shooting.

Noah Mesa '21, Staff Writer

After a series of unconscionable tragedies like the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the racially-motivated Kentucky Kroger shooting, and the Butler High School Shooting, the Rhodes community came together to honor victims and comfort one another. On Oct. 30 in the Spence Wilson Room, students, faculty and staff of all faiths participated in a service of support and healing organized by Grace Oboh ’22, Hillel President Merit Pinker ’19, Rabbi Jeremy Simons, and Chaplain Beatrix Weil.

“Today the Jewish community is in mourning,” Merit Pinker ’19 said. “We are mourning for the lives that are lost, but we are also mourning because we know what happened in Pittsburg could easily happen here or at home.”

Emily Faber ’19 and Eliza Lieberman ’21 performed Oseh Shalom, a song for peace and the Mi Shebeirach, a prayer for healing, was played for an opportunity to express complex emotions.

“About a half an hour ago, when Chaplain Beatrix and I were setting up the room, we speculated how many people would be here,” Rabbi Simmons said. “We would be happy if we got to ten, and that sounded a little funny, but we want to thank you. Truly.”

Hibah Virk ’20, the president of Muslim Student Association cited Qu’ran Surah 5 Verse 32 which says: “Whoever kills a person unjustly, it is though he has killed all of humankind. Whoever saves a life, it as though he has saved all of humankind.”

“This verse speaks to the truth that if one of us is hurting all of us are hurting, demonstrating the common bond we all share as humans,” Virk said.

Chaplain Weil later drew upon Exodus Chapter 1 Verses 13-20, which describes how two Jewish midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, both grieved over Pharaoh’s command to kill all Jewish boys that were born, but then devised a clever strategy to deceive Pharaoh and ultimately save their lives.

“Shiphrah and Puah used the buddy system. When they grieved, they grieved together…. After they grieved together, they rejected injustice together, and then they made a plan together to choose life over death. When you are at Rhodes College, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. Use the buddy system, and find the Shiphrah to your Puah,” Chaplain Weil said. “There are no words. But we will gather, and those are our words at this time.”

Before the ceremony formally ended, President Marjorie Hass led the group by saying the Mourner’s Kaddish and lighting a Yahrzeit candle, which are Jewish traditions to help honor those lives who are lost.