Tears for Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona

January 13, 2011
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Radiant: Giffords

Radiant: Giffords

The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has brought an outpouring of grief from her friends and colleagues within Arizona's Jewish communities.

Candlelit vigils were held outside Ms Giffords's congressional office and at local synagogues, and Jewish leaders have spoken of their anguish over the attack.

On Sunday morning, more than 150 people attended a service at Congregation Chaverim, where Ms Giffords is
a member.

Chaverim's Rabbi Stephanie Aaron officiated at the congresswoman's marriage to astronaut Captain Mark Kelly in 2007.

A Tucson memorial to Christina Taylor Green, who, at nine years old, was youngest victim of the gunman

A Tucson memorial to Christina Taylor Green, who, at nine years old, was youngest victim of the gunman

"Envision Gabby in her fullness with her radiant smile," Rabbi Aaron told those at the service.

"As Gabby always has, may we listen. May these prayers reach our Tucson, our country, our world. It's time to see what we hold together and find our common ground."

Democrat Ms Giffords, the southern state's first Jewish representative, had been holding a "Congress on Your Corner" event, her first since being re-elected in November, when a gunman approached the group that had collected around her.

Six people were killed and another 14 wounded in the rampage. Ms Giffords, 40, was shot in the head and remains in a critical condition in intensive care.

The attack comes just days after she was sworn in for her third term, taking the oath of office on a copy of the Old Testament. The granddaughter of
a Lithuanian rabbi, she has a non-Jewish mother but chose to follow her father's religion by visiting Israel and attending Reform services.

Doctors said on Tuesday that she was making a steady recovery. She has been able to breathe unaided for a brief period and has responded to simple commands by moving her fingers.

Those killed in the attack include US District Judge John Roll, 63; Christina Taylor Green, nine; and Ms Giffords's constituent services director Gabriel Zimmerman, 30.

Mr Zimmerman was widely reported as being Jewish, although he was not.

Five federal charges, including the murders of Judge Roll and Mr Zimmerman, were filed against alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner in Phoenix on Sunday, the day after the shooting.

The Anti-Defamation League has dismissed speculation that Loughner was motivated by antisemitism.

From an article in the Arizona Jewish Post by Phyllis Braun and Sheila Wilensky

Last updated: 1:01pm, January 13 2011