Baltimore's Jewish community gathered last night at several vigils to reflect, pray and denounce the violence that took the life of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was buried earlier in the day.
At the Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore County, a night that was to be a fund-raiser for the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore was turned into "A Gathering for Peace." Actor Richard Dreyfuss, who was to be the keynote speaker for the fund-raiser, reflected on Mr. Rabin, whom he had met on several occasions.
Mr. Dreyfuss, speaking to a crowd that overflowed the 1,800-seat Pikesville synagogue, called Mr. Rabin a peacemaker whose task was one that was more difficult than waging war.
"Rabin was the indispensable steward of that peace, and now we must do without him," Mr. Dreyfuss said.
"I think Yitzhak Rabin anticipated the possibility of his death. He was a soldier, after all," Mr. Dreyfuss said. "But he would not have struggled for so long if he didn't believe that his peace, our peace, would prevail. Prove him right."
Rabbi Joel Zaiman, who leads Chizuk Amuno and is the president of the Baltimore Jewish Council, noted that Mr. Rabin's death was preceded by incendiary rhetoric, including that of those who called him a traitor.
"When will we begin to understand the nature of extremism? When will we begin to take words seriously?" Rabbi Zaiman asked.
About 200 people also gathered last night at Beth Israel Congregation in Owings Mills in Baltimore County for a memorial service after the regular evening prayer. The service included the reflections of Itzick Edri, a shaliach, or messenger, who promotes Israel in this country, who personally knew Mr. Rabin. There were also poems, readings and songs in Hebrew.
"Peace was stressed," said Chaya Vidal, executive director of the synagogue. "The word shalom was used throughout the evening."
About 60 students and teachers at Towson State University gathered at a vigil yesterday afternoon to share their grief.
"I am very saddened, very upset," said Scott Zervitz, administrator of the Jewish Student Center, before participants formed a circle in the center of campus amid multicolored backpacks full of books.
"They can't believe it happened," said Rabbi Joseph Katz, a campus religious leader. "Jews don't kill Jews. Civilized people don't kill civilized people."
Students and faculty members held lighted candles in paper cups, sang and listened to members of TSU's Jewish Student Association talk about Mr. Rabin's legacy of peace.
"It is a very difficult time right now and joining together right now is a good thing," said Leon Seemann, president of the association. "We must stick together as a people. Let this be a warning of what can happen unless we pull together."