SACRAMENTO -- It was a call for common humanity at B'nai Israel in Sacramento as a packed synagogue of worshippers from all faiths and backgrounds remembered the lives of the 11 people shot and killed Saturday inside a Pittsburgh synagogue.
"It’s about offering comfort to each other and it’s about sowing seeds of hope for a future that will be better than the one we’re in right now," said Rabbi Mona Alfi.
Alfi said she, like many others, was heartbroken after the shooting in Pittsburgh. She hoped the service helped ease her congregation’s pain.
While congregants did hear uplifting messages from community leaders Monday night there were honest moments of sadness and fear.
"I was scared for my staff to come to the office today. Even more than that I was scared that we had invited all of you here tonight. I didn’t know what could happen," said Willie Recht, the executive director of the Jewish Federation.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg got a standing ovation for his comments, acknowledging that political leaders’ divisive rhetoric has consequences.
"People bent on violence often act when they are told again and again that political opponents are enemies, that immigrants are criminals and that those who espouse white supremacy are still good people," Steinberg told the crowd.
Anti-Semitic behavior is hardly new, though recently it has gotten much worse. Records from the Anti-Defamation League show a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 and a 34 percent increase in 2016 nationwide.
In the local region during that time period images of swastikas were either posted or painted on walls at an Orangevale synagogue, Roseville High School and St. Francis church in Sacramento.
Just this month, anti-Semitic flyers were found at the University of California, Davis and racist graffiti was posted at Sacramento City College with the message "kill them all."
One silver lining Rabbi Alfi says is the togetherness of all faith communities during their darkest hour.
"I have been overwhelmed by the love and the support from every faith group in Sacramento," Alfi said.
At one point, leaders from all different religious faiths came to the middle of the sanctuary and prayed together in yet another sign of unity.