Milwaukee vigil for Pittsburgh synagogue victims, young Jewish community reacts

NOW: Milwaukee vigil for Pittsburgh synagogue victims, young Jewish community reacts

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Those of the Jewish faith near and far are mourning the loss of the Pittsburgh synagogue victims. On Saturday, a gunman murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life congregation.

Sunday, students gathered to pray from them at the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (UWM).

The attack was heartbreaking, but also eye-opening for the young generation of Jews.

For 16-year-old Menachem Davidson, it hit too close to home. "It was extremely scary for me because it was on the Shabbat and couldn't use my cell phone couldn't look at any news, since my family lives at Pittsburgh. I'm originally from Pittsburgh," he said. "I didn't know if my family was safe, I didn't even know if it was in their synagogue."

The group held a candlelight memorial for the victims and prayed. 

Rabbi Yechezkel Thaler, co-director at Chabad UWM shared words of comfort. "He would be happy for us be gone, or at the very least for us to feel less of what we are, less Jewish, be less proud of what we are. The response has to be the exact opposite, stand proud of who we are, be proud of our identity, stand proud as Jews."

Rabbi Yechezkel was personally affected by the tragedy. His wife, Dobie Thaler, also co-director at Chabad UWM, is currently in Pittsburgh for a family Bat Mitzvah. She was blocks away from the shooting.

During the gathering, Dobie shared her thoughts over FaceTime. "My first reaction was disbelief, you can't imagine something like this. Then it turned to fright cause my kids were out, they were at a synagogue, but ultimately it turned to what's the message? How can we move forward?"

Others shared their feelings with CBS 58 News.

"A cross between depression, pain and a lot of fear because our new generation have not dealt with this directly," said Carole Tullos.

Chana Pechenik added the only way to fight hatred is with light and love. "It's just such a destructive force, it hurts so many people and I just don't understand it."

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