Family of Rhodes student was inside Pittsburgh synagogue during shooting

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many are still grappling with what happened inside a Pittsburgh synagogue last weekend, leaving 11 worshipers dead and even more injured. Samuel Fenster, a senior at Rhodes College, is one of them.

He talked to WREG about hearing from roommates about the shooting. Fenster observes the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdays and doesn't use electronics until sundown.

“I just kind of had to wait. That was difficult," he said.

All he could do was wonder, mostly about his cousin Amy and her family. They live in Pittsburgh and he knew there was a chance they could be involved.

“Finding out she was there but alright was a revelatory but still scary experience," he said.

Turned out, his cousin and her young son were among the many people inside Tree of Life Synagogue when shots rang out.

They were attending a bris for a friend’s baby boy.

“I know her youngest son heard shots fired and just started running," he said.

They were unharmed but shaken up, just as Fenster is 800 miles away in Memphis.

“What kind of psychotic monster runs into a temple screaming, ‘All Jews must die and murders 11 people?’” he said.

But he found peace in his Rhodes community; students held a vigil Tuesday night. He said student of all faiths spoke out and their support has meant a lot.

“I’ve had so many people just walk up and ask what they can do to help," he said.

He said anti-Semitism is not a new battle and Jews in America will continue to have to be prepared.

But for now, he’s learning a different kind of lesson: “making certain we are there for others in their own time of stress because we know what it feels like," he said.

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