SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - On the campus of Augustana University, The Jewish Community of South Dakota hosted the Memorial Service of Remembrance, Support & Unity for the victims of last weekend's deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Uniting the community, that's what some members of the Jewish community say is the message of the memorial service for the Pittsburgh victims.
"It really shows that there's so much more that unites us than divides us. We're all created by God and all created in God's image, and that's what is important," Rabbi Mendal Alperowitz said.
People from all across the state came to the memorial. Steven Benn is part of the Jewish community in Rapid City.
"People speak with their feet. We drive across the state. We drive from other states. Words cannot express the gratitude, the feelings that we have," Benn said.
During the ceremony, members of the Jewish community lit 11 candles to remember the 11 lives lost in the shooting.
"It's important to remember that those who were killed were not just statistics. They were human beings who each had friends and families, children, parents, loved ones, and their lives were cut short," Alperowitz said.
Alperowitz and Benn say they've felt an outpouring of support from people here in the state.
"It was a response from the heart," Benn said
"The support that we've gotten is tremendous, and it feels really good to be living in Sioux Falls," Alperowitz said.
Both men say everyone must work together in order to move forward.
"We have to learn a message from this, go back to our children, go back to our students, and use this as an object lesson," Benn said.
"Each one of us has to do whatever we can to make sure today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today," Alperowitz said.
Governor Dennis Daugaard sent a statement that was read during the memorial.
Here is the full statement:
Thank you for allowing me to share a few thoughts with you today.
I am sorry I cannot join you in person, but I share the grief and sorrow you feel for the horrific Pittsburgh attack. Every mass shooting is an unspeakable tragedy, and this attack was tinged with ethnic and religious bigotry against a people who have suffered greatly throughout history.
I know I speak for all of South Dakota when I say that we strongly reject anti-Semitism, just as we reject all forms of bigotry or discrimination by race, color, or creed. South Dakota, like our nation, is a place where we reward and celebrate people who work hard, help their neighbors, and stay true to our shared values. Anti-Semitism has no place in our state.
As you find solace in your prayers and your fellowship, please know all of South Dakota stands with you,