Roughly one thousand people of various faiths and backgrounds gathered for a vigil at a church five miles north of Colleyville, Texas to show solidarity with the Beth Israel (CBI) Jewish community.
“While very few of us are doing okay right now, we’ll get through this,” said Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was one of the four worshipers who arrived at their Reform congregation for Sabbath morning services and quickly found themselves being held at gunpoint for 11 hours.
The attacker, Malik Faisal Akram, sought the release of a Pakistani prisoner serving an 86-year sentence for terror charges at a prison roughly 15 miles southwest of Colleyville. He was killed in a firefight with FBI agents after the last three of the four hostages managed to escape the synagogue.
Rabbi Cytron-Walker said the amount of “well-wishes and kindness and compassion” has been overwhelming.
“How amazing is it for us to know… that our small congregation in Colleyville, Texas, which no one had ever heard of before, [is being so] supported on this journey.
“To my CBI family,” he said, again choking up, “I wish I had a magic wand. I wish I could take away all of our pain and struggle.
For his part, Imam Azhar Subedar, who’s the spiritual leader of the Plano Mosque 40 miles northeast of Colleyville and is active in interfaith efforts as well, viewed his attendance at the vigil as an extension of his work.
“For us it’s about the work to establish peace in the world, but at the same time, working on the people within our faith to ensure that extremist ideologies are done with,” Subedar said.
The event also drew Texas Congressman Colin Allred, whose 32nd District covers the suburban area of northeastern Dallas with its large Jewish population.
The NFL linebacker-turned-US representative said he sends two of his children to Jewish daycares. “One is at a temple that could have been chosen just like Beth Israel, so I wanted to come and show my support.”