Niece of synagogue shooting survivor to light candle at Menorah in the D

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Erika Bockneck's uncle survived the deadly Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburg last month.

Erika spoke to FOX 2 about that sad day for the Jewish community and how an upcoming event in Detroit is working to spread the light.

Barry Werber was attending services at Pittsburg's tree of life on Oct. 27, the fateful day a shooter stormed synagogue and began firing at worshippers.

His niece Erika, who lives in Farmington Hills described what her uncle did next.

"He heard sounds, his first thought was that something happened he should help with, (something like) a table fell down," she said. "But then he saw bodies on the steps when he opened the door and it was clear what was happening. And he and another small group of people were able to hide in a dark room together."

That's where Werber was able to dial 911 - and also where he came in close contact with the shooter.

"I guess the room as pretty dark so the person came inside and looked around and didn't seem him and walked back out," Erika said.

The gunman, Robert Bowers, is now charged now with killing 11 and wounding six others in the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the US.

"For someone to impose that much hate on a city that is filled with warmth and love," Erika said. "I have trouble calling it a miracle that he survived it certainly was, and we feel so grateful. But there were many people who didn't survive and it is hard to make sense of that."

In a time of darkness and tragedy for the Jewish community, Dr. Erika Bocknek, an educational professor, is planning to help spread the light.

She is one of eight honorees chosen to light a candle during the eighth annual Menorah in the D. 

On Sunday, thousands of children and families from across metro Detroit will gather at Campus Martius to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

"It's a small thing I can do to bring some light in the world, to be a part of my community and say we are still here and we are still strong," she said. "And we are not afraid to be together in this big beautiful way."

It is something her uncle would be proud of. Erika and her family were able to visit him in Pittsburg over Thanksgiving. 
"He said to me he wakes up every day, looks in the mirror, and can't believe it," she said. "He is grateful be here and he is a very resilient person and he is full of hope."