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San Francisco synagogue service to remember Golden Gate Bridge suicides

JTA

August 3, 2012 | 12:17 pm

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. Photo by Rich Niewiroski Jr.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. Photo by Rich Niewiroski Jr.

A San Francisco synagogue will hold a memorial service for the 1,558 known suicide victims who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco’s Congregation Sha’ar Zahav will host a special yizkor or remembrance service on August 7 to raise awareness about suicides and bullying, according to j., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. 

Jewish filmmaker Jenni Olson, who made the 2005 documentary “The Joy of Life” about the bridge’s history of suicides, told j. the idea came to her during the recent 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“We do a Yizkor service during the High Holy Days that is so moving,” Olson reportedly said of the congregation, whose name is Hebrew for “golden gate.”

“I thought it would be so powerful as a remembrance, as a religious service, and also as a kind of activism project to continue to draw attention to this issue,” she added.

At the one-hour event, the names of the 1,558 suicide victims will be projected on-screen as congregant volunteers lead the assembled in prayer. Organizers expect both Jewish and non-Jewish families and friends of lost loved ones to attend, according to the newspaper.

“There’s been an epidemic of teen suicide related to bullying in the last few years,” Sha’ar Zahav Rabbi Camille Angel, told j. “Of course our community is touched when these things happen. It shakes us.”

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