GREENSBORO, N.C. – Cozy, comfortable, home. Those are the words that come to mind about the Tree of Life Synagogue for Merrianne Leff.
“I went to Hebrew School there, I went to Sunday school there, I was confirmed there, it was a big important part of our lives,” Leff said.
The 11 Stars of David placed outside the synagogue she once knew so well are a stark reminder of a home now ripped apart.
“For someone to go invade that, and kill people, and harm people, it’s just horrible, horrible. It really has shattered my feelings as an American,” she said.
She found out about the news while praying inside her synagogue in Greensboro. Her friend sitting next to her was visiting from Pittsburgh. He kept receiving text messages from concerned loved ones.
“There were multiple messages, and people were saying, are you okay? Because people thought he was in Pittsburgh. So, I was the first to find out pretty much,” she said.
They knew something bad happened in their home, but they did not know how bad the situation was.
“We had no idea how severe this would be, the numbers kept rising as the hours went on,” Leff recalled.
Leff later learned one of the victims, Irving Younger, graduated from high school with her. Another friend of hers remains in the hospital, fighting for his life.
While she and her friend sat in services, wondering what was happening in the Tree of Life synagogue hundreds of miles away, they did the only thing they could, pray.
They prayed for the synagogue she once grew up in, the friends still there, and for peace.