Some 500 people congregate after spontaneous vigil announced via SMS; similar event held in Tel Aviv.
By JONATHAN BECK
Members of the gay community and their supporters rallied on Sunday evening in Jerusalem, a day after a masked gunman killed two people at a Tel Aviv center for gay youth and escaped.
Some 500 people turned out to demonstrate against hatred and violence at the rally in Jerusalem's Kikar Zion.
News of the vigil spread by word of mouth, through phones and text messages, and people arrived carrying signs that read "Why Kill?" and "Stop baseless hatred."
Others lit candles in memory of those who died in the attack as the somber crowd milled about.
"It hurts," said Sarah Billauer, a Jerusalem resident who made aliya from New Jersey. "I feel personally hurt, and I think it shows that it doesn't matter where you are, hatred can find you anywhere."
Alex, a recent immigrant from Brazil, told The Jerusalem Post that while the attack was disturbing, he found solace in the fact that so many people had turned out to express their sorrow and dismay.
"It helps to see all these people coming together, Alex said. "I think it's necessary to show how the gay and lesbian community can pull together in times of need."
Others took on a more aggressive tone, blaming "religious incitement" for the attack and calling on religious leaders to put an end to "attacks on the gay and lesbian community."
"All three major religions espouse such terrible homophobia, it's no wonder things like this happen," said Yael Allon, a Jerusalemite who said she had come to protest the taking of innocent life. "I know there are many religious people who came out to demonstrate this evening as well, but it's the extremists, they have to stop. Enough is enough."
A large delegation from the Hebrew Union College was present, and one of its members, Andy Dubin, from New York City, said the attack, coming right after Tisha Be'av, provided a fitting example of the need to stand against baseless hatred.
"The temples were destroyed because of baseless hatred," Dubin said. "And this is something that we have to learn and understand. I think there's a need to love one another wherever we are."
Still, some passersby were visibly upset by the gathering, engaging in minor spats with participants or shaking their heads as they walked by.
"Can you tell me, are we in Jerusalem?" one young man asked. "I thought this was supposed to be a holy city."
"There are murders every day," another passerby said. "Why is this any different?"
But one older man, with a kippa on his head and snuff stains around his mustache, told the Post, "Look, in theory I'm against all of this, but killing another person? There's no excuse for it. We have to learn how to get along - religious, secular, gay, straight, we've got figure out how to let each other live our lives."
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