"Normally," said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, he would ask those in mourning to stand and pray the mourner's prayer, known in Hebrew as the Kaddish.

But, he added, these are not normal times.

So as mem­bers of Tree of Life/​Or L'Sim­cha gath­ered at sun­down Fri­day for their first Shab­bat ser­vice since last Satur­day's deadly in­va­sion by a gun­man, the en­tire con­gre­ga­tion stood to pray the mourner's af­fir­ma­tion of faith amid grief.

It had been nearly a full week since a gun­man killed seven at Tree of Life's Shab­bat morn­ing ser­vice at its Squir­rel Hill syn­a­gogue and four more from two other con­gre­ga­tions that shared the build­ing who were worshipping at the same time.

With Tree of Life's build­ing still sealed off as a crime scene, the mem­bers gath­ered in a chapel in Con­gre­ga­tion Ro­def Shalom in Shadyside that will be their tem­po­rary home for now. More than 200 at­tended the ser­vice, a much larger gath­er­ing than on a typ­i­cal Fri­day night.

Rabbi Myers, a survivor of the assault on Tree of Life who ushered those he could to safety and witnessed the sound of the gunfire that killed others, offered condolences to the surviving loved ones in attendance.

"There's no handbook on this," he said. "There's no one particular place to turn to say this is what you do after this happened. … I probably have the same questions you have, and we'll all struggle together for answers."

The key word, he said, is "together, because that's what community does."

Even so, Rabbi Myers drew on a wry sense of humor amid the gloom.

He quipped that people would need to share prayer books because so many were attending — not a common problem.

And at the end of services, he put aside his prayer shawl and suit jacket and put on a black T-shirt with the now ubiquitous slogan, "Stronger than hate," with the gold Star of David amid the familiar U.S. Steel and Pittsburgh Steelers logo. Although he is a native of New Jersey who only moved here recently, he said, he was now a Pittsburgher.

Tammy Hepps, from left, Kate Rothstein, and her daughter Simone Rothstein, all of Squirrel Hill, read from a religious text and embrace on the intersection of Shady Avenue and Northumberland Street after multiple people were killed at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue, Saturday, Oct, 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.
Alexandra Wimley / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP
Tammy Hepps, from left, Kate Rothstein, and her daughter Simone Rothstein, all of Squirrel Hill, read from a religious text and embrace on the intersection of Shady Avenue and Northumberland Street after multiple people were killed at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue, Saturday, Oct, 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.

Member Kris Kepler, who missed last Saturday's service because he was sick at home, said afterward it was poignant to voice the mourner's prayer together for the first Shabbat since the massacre.

"It felt really good to be with my Tree of Life family and be able to sing," he said.

The past several days, he said, had "been nothing but funerals and sadness and pain and anguish. It's nice to just for a little bit have a little bit of happiness."

Friday, he said, he was able to notice and appreciate the brilliant fall colors around him.

"It's the first day I've been able to see anything outside all of this pain and suffering," he said.

During the service, the worshipers joined in set prayers for late afternoon and evening, offered praise, affirming the oneness of God and praying for protection. "Shield us from enemies and pestilence, from starvation, sword and sorrow," they said. "Remove the evil forces that surround us."

Alongside the ancient texts, Rabbi Myers offered a message in which he drew on more modern ones.

One was the recent movie, "A Wrinkle in Time," in which the character Mrs. Which, played by Oprah Winfrey, issues a call to stand against a malevolent force known as the IT.

"This is what the IT does," he said, overtaking "one person at a time until fear takes over. Fear turns to rage. Rage turns to violence. And then there's a tipping point. If we do not act soon, darkness will fall across the universe."

But he vowed to fight the IT, paraphrasing another 20th century fictional character, the Cowardly Lion of "The Wizard of Oz."

"Not now, not no how, not never," he said. "They ain't chasing us out of our house!"

Rabbi Myers read a few of the many emails he has received from as near as New Jersey and as far as Guam, Australia, the Philippines and Israel.

In Uganda, he said, a group planning to build a synagogue in its capital has decided on a name: Tree of Life.

"We are not alone," he said.

And they were not alone Friday night.

Several hundred more people of various religions attended Congregation Rodef Shalom's own Shabbat service held in another sanctuary in the complex located along Fifth Avenue.

"We're not going to allow the Jewish community to respond alone," said Imam Hamza Perez of Light of the Age Mosque on the North Side. "We're going to respond as one people. And that's the beauty of it, that the city can set and example nationwide how we can come together against terrorism."

People gather for a vigil on Murray and Forbes Avenues, blocks from where an active shooter shot multiple people at Tree of Life Congregation synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.
People gather for a vigil on Murray and Forbes Avenues, blocks from where an active shooter shot multiple people at Tree of Life Congregation synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.

Ambassador Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York City, noted that people from many different walks of life with different political views had come to the synagogue to stand together.

"What makes us one family is that we are all decent people that in here demonstrate our position toward hatred," he said.

Not far away, worshipers at Temple Sinai's Friday service were greeted by a uniformed police officer who said "Shabbat Shalom" to all as they entered.

Those in the standing-room-only crowd — already mobbed by 6 p.m. for a 7 p.m. service — included two dressed in the garb of the observant Muslim woman.

The Stronger than Hate logo was projected onto the synagogue's walk. Mayor Bill Peduto received a standing ovation.

Back at Rodef Shalom, a single security guard stood watch at the doors along Fifth Avenue. Two Pittsburgh police vehicles were stationed in the parking lot behind the synagogue.

Tina Sevin, of Swisshelm Park, who isn't Jewish and had never attended a Shabbat service, decided to bring her sons, 9-year-old Logan and 5-year-old Ryan.

"It was really important to me to support the Jewish community," she said. "I wanted to them to know that they weren't alone, and I thought it was also important for our children to come out and to recognize that we're very similar. That even though we might have some different beliefs, that we are all the same people."

Weaved in between the usual songs and prayers at Rodef Shalom's service were poems written by Rabbi Danny Schiff, Chana Brody, a child of Holocaust survivors, and Point Breeze resident Valerie Bacharach.

Ms. Bacharach read her poem to the packed sanctuary and received a standing ovation from the worshipers after she finished.

"I will go to services, wear my necklace with its Jewish star, mourn with others, cry with others, and yes, hopefully, laugh with others," Ms. Bacharach wrote.

"Because Pittsburgh has strong arms, wide enough to embrace us all, and we will provide solace and love for each other.

"We will not be afraid."

Peter Smith: petersmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416; Twitter @PG_PeterSmith. Andrew Goldstein: agoldstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1352. Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman contributed.