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Community gathers to mourn victims from Marathon attack

Published: April 19, 2013
Section: Featured, News


Students, faculty and staff gathered for an interfaith vigil at Chapel’s Pond Tuesday afternoon to console one another in solidarity with the victims of the Marathon bombing attacks.

“The world is not nearly as neat and organized as we want to believe it is,” Rabbi Elyse Winick ’86 said.

Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Catholic Chaplain Walter Cuenin began his remarks by speaking about the importance of the Brandeis community’s unified assembly.

“We gather here in solidarity for those wounded, killed and their families, but also for the whole community of Boston to be in union with each other and to make a statement that love is stronger than evil, and we will not be conquered by this terrible, tragic event,” Cuenin said.

Cuenin’s words of comfort resonated among community members, as students and faculty nodded heads and embraced one another for comfort.

Winick spoke about the timing of the events, saying that community members who live by a dual calendar, a Jewish calendar and a secular calendar, might find the timing of this event to be incredibly “awkward.”

Tuesday marked Israel’s independence day, Yom Ha’atzmaut, commemorating Israel’s declaration of independence. And Monday, the day of the attacks, was Israel’s memorial day, Yom Hazikaron, a day that is unofficially established in Israel for soldiers who have lost their lives in battle while defending Israel.

“It makes the experience of having a bombing happen so close to home for all of us feel that much more odd and being in multiple places in one time,” Winick said. “There is a word for what it means to experience joy and sadness simultaneously. There is a word for tragedy and celebration happening simultaneously. And that word is life.”

Winick concluded her words with a prayer for the victims and their families.

“May healing come quickly—physically, spiritually, emotionally—for all those who have been hurt. May there be comfort for the families and may there be comfort for all of us because it is our linked arms that will bring an end to evil,” she said.

President Fred Lawrence commented about the impact of the events on the Brandeis community and what steps the community should take in moving forward.

“This has added yet another one of those moments in our lives when none of us will forget where we were the moment that we heard,” Lawrence said.

On Monday, Lawrence was at a conference in Washington, D.C., for all of the major research university presidents. The moment he read about what had happened, he immediately called his office to ensure that the Brandeis family was safe.

Lawrence said he was grateful that no community members were harmed, “but we all mourn for those who were killed, injured and their families.”

Lawrence talked about having little or no control over the circumstances that society faces. But he urged the community to understand the “infinite” control over how they can respond. That understanding, he says, will allow students to draw strength from one another.

“I have to tell you the strength that I draw just from looking around here makes us realize that it is impossible to go through these things alone, but it is very possible to go through them together,” Lawrence said. “We have to reach out to each other in the coming days. Don’t be alone.”

Since the events on Monday, Lawrence and other faculty have sent numerous emails to the Brandeis community, urging students to reach out to resources on campus via the Psychological Counseling Center, or for the faculty, through the university’s Employee Assistance program. The emails also advised students to keep close contact with their families.

Many students have expressed their thoughts and gratitude for the university’s response to the events.

“I think the community is doing a great job and they should continue to promote the Mailman services for those that need it; especially because we are one of the happiest colleges in the U.S.” Ethan Levy ’15 said.

Other students expressed the difficulty of fully understanding the events because of Brandeis’ proximity to Boston.

“I think it’s hard because it feels like we’re so far away. We’re really not that far, but it feels like we aren’t really there,” Charlotte Franco ’15 says. “Franco mentioned that even though it feels far, Brandeis is playing an active role in helping the victims by hosting the blood drive this week.

Blood drive coordinator Rachel Weissman ’15 spoke about the impact of Monday’s events on this past week’s blood drive. She said that there was a significant increase in donors, which has positively affected the event.

“We still have all of the same people that have always come out, but this drive I have noticed a lot more first-time donors. It seems like what happened Monday was the extra push a lot of people needed to come donate. We have had about 20 more successful donations this drive, compared to drives in the past, which is great,” Weissman said.

Weissman noted that the increase in the donors has had a positive effect on the blood drive, but she wishes it didn’t take something like this to get people to donate.

“As far as our effect on the event and our contact with the Red Cross, the Red Cross has told us that they have met all current need caused by the event at this time, which is absolutely amazing,” Weissman said. “Nothing makes me happier then to see first-time donors come out and donate and I hope that they continue to come back.”

Lawrence said he believes the community will continue to draw on its common ties of unity and love in the coming weeks.

“We have to move forward. The power of love is always stronger than the power of hate. This community is a special place that way,” Lawrence said.