January 15th, 2011
10:30 AM ET
From Pamela Sellers, CNN
Members of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's synagogue met Friday night for the first Jewish sabbath services since she was wounded in a shooting attack one week ago that left six people dead and 13 others wounded.
Rabbi Stephanie Aaron of Congregation Chaverim used the occasion to call for the renewal of the Tucson community and to urge members to reject violence and hatred.
"Remember that we are tied to what really matters in this world: love, justice, truth and shalom," Aaron said, wrapping her finger in a long white tassel of her prayer shawl as she spoke.
"Shalom" means "peace" in Hebrew.
Giffords is a member of the congregation, as was Gabriel Zimmerman, the congresswoman's director of community. Both were shot in an attack during a constituent meeting outside a Safeway grocery store on January 8.
Despite being shot in the head at close range, Giffords survived the attack. Zimmerman died, along with a federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and three others.
Federal prosecutors have charged 22-year-old Jared Loughner with murder, attempted murder and attempting to kill a member of Congress in the January 8 attack.
More than 100 members of the small Tucson congregation, along with some members of Giffords' family, arrived at the temple Friday night to warm greetings and hugs before the two-hour service.
Aaron told congregants that she had visited Giffords in the hospital just hours earlier, issuing her a new Hebrew name and quietly whispering a prayer meant to bring the "light of healing" to the congresswoman, who remains in critical condition at a Tucson hospital.
She repeated the prayer Friday night.
"This is a week of terrible pain, and terrific loss," Aaron said. "We need to pray that our precious Gabby has a complete return to wholeness."
She also spoke passionately against violence and intolerance, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.
"May we live our lives so that we never have to take up weapons," she said, while praying over the sons of congregants, including her own, whom she specifically called out by name.
Members of the congregation were asked to call for special blessings for the group and the Tucson community.
They called for compassion, empathy, courage, health, safety and the ability to "know our neighbors."
At the end of the service, Aaron praised President Barack Obama for coming to Tucson and delivering a memorial speech for victims of the attack.
"What an incredible mensch he was to do all that and to reach out to our community and to the world," she said.
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