Tragedy brings SMC's Interfaith community together

A mosaic of cultures and religions gathered together at Santa Monica College on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 12 p.m. for an interfaith vigil for the Tree of Life synagogue massacre victims. Regardless of creed, race or gender students gathered around a common message; “love overcomes hate.”

Menachen Levitansky, a Jewish community member, brought a “Wall of Goodness and Kindness” and reflects on the interfaith vigil’s importance, “It doesn’t make a difference what religion or what faith or what you believe in. Just because our face might not be the same doesn’t mean we can’t be together as one community and one people," said Levitansky.

Speakers from different faiths and backgrounds led the vigil. They offered condolences, hope, and reminded the SMC audience that hardship only breeds strength. 

Pastor Eric Shepard from Mount Olive Lutheran Church called for solidarity through South African Bishop Desmond Tutu’s words,“Goodness is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Light is stronger than darkness. Life is stronger than death.” 

On Saturday, October 27, Robert Bowers, 46, murdered 11 Tree of Life synagogue members during a Shabbat prayer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvanian has charged him with a 44-count indictment including federal hate crimes.

SMC’s President Kathryn Jeffery recalls a moment of disbelief, distress and clarity when she first heard about the attack. “And I was quickly reminded, that for the community now mourning; this was not another shooting spree. This was a first shooting spree,” said Jeffery.

According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes have increased in the U.S.’s ten largest cities 12.5 percent in 2017 and is part of an annual trend over the last four years.

Rabbi Eli Levitansky closes the vigil, “The lesson that we need to take with us is that when evil happens we need to fight it. And the way we fight is with light. If you have a dark room and you bring in a small flame. That small flame will brighten an entire room that’s dark. One act of goodness and kindness can have the ripple effect to transform the world.”

Article Updated November 8, 2018 :

Within the article, “Tragedy brings SMC’s Interfaith community together,” it incorrectly spells rabbi Eli Levitanskys’ sons last name, it is Levistansky, not “Levitamsky.” Further into the article the Levistansky last name was mispelled again as “Leviransky.”


A caption for a photo states incorrectly spelled the religious text Quran. It was incorrectly spelled as “Quarn.”