Mayor Catherine Pugh held an interfaith candlelight vigil on Dec. 28 inside War Memorial Plaza to honor families impacted by violence in Baltimore days after the city experienced its 343rd killing in 2017, which gave Baltimore its highest per-capita homicide rate on record.
Among attendees were Baltimore Jewish Council executive director Howard Libit and Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Rabbi Andrew Busch, who spoke at the gathering.
“No gathering is going to end the bloodshed in the city, but all of us who live in the region are impacted, whether directly or indirectly, by this murder rate and by the individual loss of life involved,” Busch said. “I thought it was important to represent the Jewish community at the event and to be present at the event as well.”
He thinks a large percentage of people who attended the vigil had been directly impacted by the violence.
On the mayor’s request for attendees to bring signs with one word of hope and inspiration, Libit brought a sign his daughter made that said “together” with a picture of people holding hands. He said the event was a powerful interfaith display with the message to work for a safer Baltimore in 2018.
“We must not forget those who were killed and seek justice for them, and it is our collective responsibility to build a better Baltimore,” he said via email.
Busch shared Libit’s sentiment about the collective responsibility.
“There’s a lot of work to be done on this issue,” the rabbi said. “[For the Jewish community] I think it’s about simply being involved and partnering in as many ways as we can.”