By BosNewsLife News Center with reporting from the United States and Israel
NEWTOWN/JERUSALEM (BosNewsLife)– Christian mourners in Newtown, Connecticut, saw their prayers interrupted when they were evacuated at a Roman Catholic church as a bomb threat was reported by officials during services at the church, about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the site of Friday’s school shooting where 20 children were killed.
State troopers, police and ambulances were on the scene at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, reporters said. Though the all-clear was later given without an apparent explosive found, the incident underscored that life has changed in this previously mainly peaceful family friendly town of 27,000 people.
The latest scare came while a Jewish child was identified as the youngest of the 26 victims killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Newtown.
Noah Pozner, a first-grader like all of the children killed at the school on Friday, had turned 6 on November 20, reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). He was to be laid to rest on Sunday, December 16.
Rabbi Shaul Praver of Temple Adath Israel in Newtown recalled consoling Pozner’s mother, who is a member of the synagogue.
“I told the mother that was grieving that I personally believe in the eternity of the soul, and I believe that she will see her son again,” Praver said on National Public Radio (NPR).
“Other than that theological comment, the rest of it was getting her to think about taking a breath and not trying to plan the rest of her life out right now, because she says, ‘What am I going to do without my baby?'”
Praver was among the clergy, social workers and psychologists who arrived at a firehouse near the school where many of the victims and their families congregated after the shooting. On Saturday morning, Adath Israel reportedly held a community prayer service.
In response to the question of why such tragedies happen, Praver replied: “I don’t know the answer to that. I never try to present theological answer to that. I think what’s more important is to have compassion, humanity and hold someone’s hand and hug them and cry with them.”
In Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, December 16, by expressing shock on behalf of the state of Israel over the mass shooting. “I send condolences to [US] President [Barack] Obama, to the bereaved families and to the American people…Who like us in Israel is familiar with massacres of children and innocents?”
Besides the twenty children, six school employees, were killed when Adam Lanza, 20, forced his way into the building and opened fire. Lanza, who had attended the Sandy Hook school, also killed his mother, Nancy, in the home they shared.
“I pray that the families and the American people find the strength to overcome this terrible tragedy,” Netanyahu said.
President Barack Obama was to attend an evening vigil in Newtown on Sunday, December 16, to mourn with a town still seeking to comprehend what American media called “the unimaginable massacre” of its children and teachers.
Obama was to visit privately with families of the victims and with emergency personnel who responded to the shootings.
He would later speak at an interfaith vigil at Newtown High School.
Obama could barely contain his emotions Friday, speaking tearfully at the White House and expressing his sympathy as a parent and a president.
(Watch Obama’s tearful remarks here, story continues after this…)
He reiterated his message Saturday morning, December 15, in his usual weekend radio address, saying “every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt” and adding that it was time to “take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.”
For the president, this is the fourth trip of his presidency to a community still grieving from a mass shooting, The Associated Press news agency noted.
Just last summer, Obama went to Aurora, Colorado, to visit victims and families after a shooting spree at a movie theater in the Denver suburb left 12 dead.
He went to Tucson, Arizona, in January of last year after six people were killed and 13 wounded, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, outside a grocery store.
And in November 2009, Obama traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, to speak at the memorial service for 13 service members who were killed on the post by another soldier.
“As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years,” Obama said in his radio address Saturday.
The Newtown shootings and Obama’s vague but declarative call for “meaningful action” has reignited a debate over gun laws and raised an expectation among gun control advocates that Obama will seek changes.
But public opinion in favor of gun control has declined over the years, commentators say.
Though the White House says Obama stands by his desire to reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, he has not pushed Congress to act, amid divisions within even his own Democratic Party on that issue.