"Ring of peace" formed around Toronto synagogues one week after Pittsburgh shooting

TORONTO - People of various faiths joined hands to form a circle around a Toronto temple Saturday morning to show support for the Jewish community one week after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Holy Blossom Temple spokeswoman Deanna Levy says a ``ring of peace'' was formed during Shabbat morning services on Saturday and that it symbolizes protection formed by kindness from the Toronto community.

Haroon Sheriff, president of the Imdadul Islamic Centre, says more than 200 Muslims and Christians took buses to the temple to participate.

He says the gesture is meant to show support and solidarity.

The temple's rabbi, Yael Splansky, has said that Toronto native Joyce Fienberg, who was killed in the Pittsburgh shooting, was a member of Holy Blossom Temple.

Fienberg was one of 11 people killed when authorities said a gunman expressing hatred of Jews opened fire on worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.

Splansky said Fienberg was married at the temple, which has over 6,500 members and is one of Toronto's oldest Jewish congregations, and her confirmation photo is on its wall of honour.

Holy Blossom wasn't the only synagogue where supporters came out Saturday morning. A similar circle formed around City Shul in the Annex, where religious leaders from the nearby St. Anne's Anglican Church and Islamic Information and Dawah Centre denounced last Saturday's attack. 

The Centre's Shabir Ally spoke of how the Jewish community was there for Muslims following the shooting at a Quebec mosque in January 2017. 

"The fact that it happened means that we have the obligation not only to reciprocate, but to do what is coming out of the humanity in all of us," he told CP24. "We all are shocked and grieved that something like this happened."

"People should not be attacked in their places of worship - whether that be a mosque, a church, a synagogue or any other place of worship," he added. "In fact, we should not have such violence in our world."

- With files from NEWSTALK1010 and CP24