The people of Newtown, Conn., are “no different than the people of Mahwah,” Mayor Bill Laforet told a crowd of over 100 residents who gathered in the Mahwah High School auditorium to pray for the victims of Friday’s school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The prayer vigil, organized by the township and attended by members of the Mahwah police department, fire department, ambulance corps, emergency responders, and town council members, as well as township residents, invited local leaders of different faiths to lead the group in prayers for those affected by the shooting that claimed 26 victims, 20 of them children.
“No matter where you are on your faith journey, stop, and pray for these people,” Pastor Rob Parker of Mahwah’s Plant Church, who presided over the ceremony, said.
Locals were led by Parker, Ramapo Reformed Church Rev. Bill Grove, Temple Beth Haverim Shir Shalom Rabbi Joel Mosbacher and members of religious houses across the township in prayers for the victims and their families, the survivors and their families, students, teachers, the emergency responders who responded to Sandy Hook last Friday, and the entire Newtown community.
Members of the Mahwah school community and township ambulance corps spoke to honor the teachers and emergency responders in Newtown.
Ramapo Ridge teacher Ed Scherer fought back tears while talking about his students.
“Going to school, seeing the children I love and care for, I know it meant a lot more today,” he said.
Bob Klingen, a Co. 4 ambulance member, compared the police officers and volunteer ambulance workers are firefighters in Newtown, to those in Mahwah.
“That town is very similar to our own,” he said.
A string of about 10 speakers at the event stressed the importance of the Mahwah community coming together to support one another and those in Newtown.
“We are stronger for being together tonight,” Laforet said at the close of the ceremony.