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With Pittsburgh tragedy still raw, Community Prayer Breakfast stresses unity

Just a little over a week after 11 members of a Pittsburgh synagogue were gunned down by a lone shooter, local religious leaders gathered this week at the local 55th annual Community Prayer Breakfast to promote unity and peace among practitioners of different faiths.

The timing was coincidental, but not lost, on attendees of the interfaith gathering held by the Glendale Religious Leaders Assn. on Wednesday morning in the Glendale Civic Auditorium.

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Describing the outpouring of support for the Jewish community following the tragedy in Pittsburg, Rabbi Rick Schechter with Temple Sinai of Glendale called the local community “an example of what a city and a community could be.”

On the day of the shooting, Temple Sinai had a Bat Mitzvah service scheduled. Glendale police officers sat watch in the parking lot, “to keep us safe,” Schechter said.

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“We can do more together than any of us can do by ourselves,” said Shane Kinnison, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Glendale, who penned a statement in solidarity with the Tree of Life Congregation, where the recent shooting occurred.

Keynote speaker Bob Miller, former announcer for the L.A. Kings, also stressed that silver linings can be found even in the current fraught political climate.

“The country has been divided before, but we got through it,” said Miller, referencing inter-American fights in the 1960s over the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Act.

“Life is amazing,” Miller said — a phrase that was also the title of his speech — because of the joyful feelings it affords, he added. In his case, he pointed to the professional satisfaction he enjoyed from his decades-long work as a sports broadcaster.

As part of the program, young people of different faiths from local schools were invited to talk about their beliefs.

Hayat Owainat, a practitioner of Islam who attends Clark Magnet High School, said it was good for her to witness firsthand how people of other faiths pray.

Abdullah Hasan, a Clark student and Islam observer, said he’s passionate about interfaith efforts.

“I definitely feel that this community needs to be united,” Hasan said.

Glendale City Councilwoman Paula Devine said it was poignant to see that the students and adults share many of the same concerns — and collective goals.

“It brings us to the realization: What are we doing to each other?” Devine said following the event. “They want us to live in peace. They want to get along.”

Next year’s prayer breakfast has been scheduled for Nov. 7 in the Glendale Civic Auditorium.

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