Community mourns and stands strong together following tragic killings in Virginia Beach

June 7, 2019

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The horrific shooting that took place on Friday, May 31 at Virginia Beach’s Municipal Center, resulting in 13 deaths, shook the entire Hampton Roads community and brought world-wide attention and offers of sympathy to the area. It was the type of attention Virginia Beach never thought it would experience.

In the days following the shooting, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Relations Council played a significant and supporting role in assisting in the organization of VB Remembers, a community gathering to begin the healing process.

CRC hosted two meetings at the Sandler Family Campus to plan the Thursday, June 6 event. Attended by city, civic, and faith leaders, as well as by first responders, including fire, police, and FBI personnel, the meetings not only served as planning sessions, but also connected people, organizations, and communities.

Virginia Beach City Councilman Michael Berlucchi, along with Councilwoman Jessica Abbot, initiated the gathering.

“As Virginia Beach confronts the worst tragedy we have ever faced, we knew we needed to come together to comfort each other, support survivors, and remember the victims. That is why we knew we needed to act swiftly to plan VB Remembers. The events that occurred at the Municipal Center have hurt us but they have not defeated us—we will emerge from this experience stronger and better connected as neighbors,” says Berlucchi.

“I am grateful to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, their Community Relations Council, and the Simon Family JCC for not only lending its building and facilities to our City planning team, but for lending their hearts and talent to this important and needed project,” Berlucchi says.

In addition to Governor Ralph Northam, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kane, Congresswoman Elaine Luria, Mayor Bobby Dyer, and many other civic and faith leaders, Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg, representing HUBB Leadership Council, Cantor Jennifer Reuben and Ohef Sholom Temple’s music director, Charles Woodward and his Virginia Chorale, were slated to participate in the program, which was held at the Rock Church. Symphonicity, Christian Broadcasting Network’s Gordon Robertson, Imam Rachid Khould, and the Mennonite Choir were just some of the program’s other participants.

While for some people, attending community gatherings and vigils heals, for others, individualized support is preferred. That support is available from area clergy and from Jewish Family Service.

“JFS counselors are available to support those who may be affected by this tragedy, and will be strictly confidential. Please call 757-459-4640 or visit our web-site www.jfshamptonroads.org for more information on counseling services,” says Kelly Burroughs, JFS chief executive officer.

“Our community will stand together and support each other during these difficult days and weeks ahead,” says Betty Ann Levin, UJFT executive vice president.

Terri Denison

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