By Gretchen Berger
On Wednesday evening, in the wake of the national tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Upper West Siders gathered for a candlelight vigil to express their sorrow and support for the victims and survivors.
It was nearly 10 years after a Sandy Hook Elementary School candlelight vigil was held in Riverside Park, where people swore, “never again!”
The vigil was organized by local community and interfaith leaders who tried to comfort, eulogize and inspire to action. It was held on the steps of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church on West End Avenue and West 86th Street.
A large crowd gathered to hear speakers, prayers and songs from local leaders of churches, synagogues and the Ethical Culture Society, including:
Rabbis Felicia L. Sol, J. Rolando Matalon, and Shuli Passow from Congregation B’nai Jeshurun; Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan; Rev. Michael Piazza, Broadway United Church of Christ; Rev. Lea Matthews, St. Paul & St. Andrew; Dr. Nori Rost, the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
Comments from speakers included: “No one needs an automatic rifle!”; “We don’t need thoughts and prayers!” “Time to rise up and do justice (Biblical reference from Micah)!”; and “Demand that our elected officials protect our children!”
A moment of silence was observed after the names of the victims were read.
New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, the final speaker, noted that there were 212 mass shootings this year — more than there are days on the calendar so far. Songs were performed by Ari Priven of B’nai Jeshurun, and Robin Bahr-deStefano of St. Paul & St. Andrew, including Where Have All the Flowers Gone, and, finally, Amazing Grace.
Candles were lit and flowers laid upon the entry steps.