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First Presbyterian Church members wearing yarmulkes

The minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Rev. Dr. Bob Zanicky, says he had been inspired by the way people were coming together after the deadly shooting last month at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and was looking for ways to show solidarity against hatred.


“I said what about wearing kippahs, yarmulkes in a church whenever we get together, which is today. Then it evolved into why don’t we ask other churches to do the same thing,” Zanicky told WNEP 16.

The reverend distributed yarmulkes to 12 others churches throughout the Wyoming Valley, which say “Together we stand.” Underneath is the Hebrew word “Shalom.”

Zanicky also invited Reform clergy Larry Kaplan of Temple Israel to speak to his congregation during last Sunday’s service.

“A lot of the children didn’t know what a yarmulke was, and they all had them on, so he showed them that it was support from above and that we’re watched over from above and that’s what the true meaning of the yarmulke is,” Mary Louise Harris, a resident of Wilkes-Barre, told WNEP.

Close enough. The Talmud states (Shabbat 156b), “Cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you.” The Yiddish word yarmulke is popularly associated with the Aramaic “yera malka” meaning “fear the King.”

Despite the lovely gesture by the church, Kaplan noted that “next Saturday, we’re still going to have to have police officers at our building.”

Rev. Zanicky hopes that if churches support each other and other faiths, maybe there won’t be any more attacks like the one in Pittsburgh, WNEP concluded.

It’s a very nice thought.


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