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Show up for Shabbat: Strength and unity in Santa Barbara following tragedy in Pittsburgh

A new campaign is calling for all Americans, of all faiths to visit synagogues this weekend.

The American Jewish Committee started the social media invitation #ShowUpForShabbat.

Friday marks the first Sabbath following the horrific events in Pittsburgh and Jewish leaders do not plan to close off their communities out of fear.

Faith leaders at Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara say about 50 people usually show up for Friday Shabbat and they were prepared to welcome hundreds.

Rabbi Stephen Cohen says the tragedy in Pittsburgh has brought out a real impulse to come together.

“This is a time to really reach out and remember that we’re all human beings, we’re all Americans and we have to dig deep and find our common humanity with each other,” said Cohen.

Just six days after the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history, Jews and non-Jews alike gathered for Shabbat in grief and solidarity for the first Sabbath since the shooting.

“There is a bit of a double emotional feeling tonight, both of deep sadness and also again celebrating Jewish tradition and community and our connection her neighbors as well,” said Cohen.

Those neighbors reached out to Congregation B’nai B’rith, expressing interest in attending the weekend services, as the social media movement #ShowUpForShabbat gains traction, inviting everyone to fight back against hate.

“It warms my heart it shows that there’s more good people than evil and I think sometimes when things are so negative in our world we feel like the evil is just surrounding us but now with the show up for Shabbat movement were able to surround ourselves with people that are positive community oriented and supporting each other in a loving way,” said

Members of the the Santa Barbara Jewish community say it’s bittersweet walking into the synagogue but the support they’ve seen from all faiths gives them strength.

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