Monday, November 19, 2001

From combined dispatches
NEW YORK Mourners from New York and the Dominican Republic gathered in ceremonies yesterday to grieve for the passengers of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed last week into the beach community of Belle Harbor.
“Oh Lord, we come before you with open hearts, with broken hearts,” said the Rev. Ruben Diaz, who gave the invocation after the singing of the Dominican and U.S. national anthems.
Speaking in Spanish and English, religious leaders offered condolences and prayers in the interfaith ceremony to about 4,000 relatives and friends of the victims who died on the jet that was bound for the Dominican Republic. Most sat stoically or cried quietly during the hourlong service.
The outdoor ceremony took place at Riis Park, about two miles from the crash site on the oceanfront Rockaway Peninsula of Queens. Mourners included Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Gov. George E. Pataki and U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“You are brothers and sisters to us and we welcome you here,” said Monsignor Martin Geraghty of the St. Francis de Sales Church in Rockaway.
Many of the dead came from Washington Heights, a neighborhood that is home to the largest Dominican community outside the Dominican Republic. Belle Harbor, roughly 13 miles away, is largely Irish, Italian and Jewish. Both communities already had lost many residents in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“What binds us together today … are the tears, a river of tears day and night,” said Rabbi Michael Miller. “We shed rivers of tears for brothers and sisters, friends and lovers, whose companionship has been torn away so suddenly.”
Some 1,500 miles away yesterday, grief-stricken relatives crowded into the tiny Altagracia Catholic Church in Ojo de Agua, Dominican Republic.
About 100 people packed the church and spilled out into the yard behind for the funeral Mass remembering Jose Vicente Infante, 38, the first victim of Flight 587 to be returned to the island.

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