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Local Jewish Women Organize Brianna Kupfer Memorial

The vigil on January 20 drew dozens of attendees, including local leaders like Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Former Los Angeles City Council Member Zev Yaroslavsky and Sam Yebri and Katy Young Yaroslavsky, who are both running for Los Angeles City Council in the 5th district.
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January 21, 2022
From left, Sheila Meyer, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, and Yael Koppel. Photos courtesy of Sheila Meyer.

On January 13, 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer was stabbed to death while working alone at Croft House on La Brea Avenue in Hancock Park. Allegedly, Shawn Laval Smith brutally murdered Kupfer, a UCLA student. A customer found her body 15 minutes after the random attack. Smith, who was arrested many times for crimes that happened out of the state, was arrested for the killing on January 19 in Pasadena and is being held on a $2 million bail.

Upon hearing about the tragedy, Yael Koppel reached out to her friend Sheila Meyer about doing something to honor Kupfer.

“We both thought it was strange that people were going about their business while something so tragic happened in our neighborhood,” said Meyer, who owns A Time for Dance at 7269 Beverly Blvd. “I feel like the whole neighborhood was shaken by the news that this happened. I couldn’t stop thinking about the senseless murder of this young girl.”

Koppel and Meyer started planning a vigil for Kupfer. They held it on January 20 and drew dozens of attendees, including local leaders like Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, Former Los Angeles City Council Member Zev Yaroslavsky and Sam Yebri and Katy Young Yaroslavsky, who are both running for Los Angeles City Council in the 5th district.

“Brianna could have been any of our loved ones,” Yebri told the Journal. “In the Jewish tradition, we comfort mourners by saying ‘May her memory be a blessing.’ For those words to have meaning after Brianna’s senseless murder, we must all come together as Angelenos and fight to improve our city’s approach to mental health and public safety.”

Katy Young Yaroslavsky said, “One of the things I heard over and over at Brianna’s memorial was that she could have been any of our daughters. When I was Brianna’s age, I lived just around the corner from Croft House. The randomness of her killing and that it was utterly preventable make it all the more tragic. By demanding more from our leaders and committing to creating truly safe communities together, we can make sure this doesn’t happen again.” 

“It was beautiful to see everyone come together to honor this young woman with a bright future whose life was tragically cut short.”

The team at Croft House and Kupfer’s friends and neighbors showed up and shared their fond memories of her.

In his speech, Croft House’s Co-Founder and Director of Business Development Alex Segal said, “Bri was the brightest part of anyone’s day who got to interact with her. She was smart, capable, intelligent, kind and friendly, and just an incredibly driven person.”

Meyer was touched that so many people, including those closest to Brianna, attended the vigil. “It was beautiful to see everyone come together to honor this young woman with a bright future whose life was tragically cut short. I hope it brought some solace to her friends and comfort to the family that they are not mourning alone.”

Over the past two years, homicides have risen 94% in Los Angeles County, according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva. “I think throughout the entire United States, it’s probably one of the biggest jumps ever,” he said in a news conference on January 19.

The same day that Kupfer was killed, a homeless man attacked 70-year-old nurse Sandra Shells at Union Station. She died from her injuries just three days later.

“I feel that many of us are scared,” said Meyer. “[We’re] not feeling comfortable when we go out and [we’re] scared to allow our children to walk in the neighborhood alone. While the murderer was caught, this incident reminds us that there are many others out there who could do the same thing.”

She hopes that Kupfer’s murder is a huge wakeup call for everyone in this city. “This is yet another crime that should not have happened,” she said. “We need to hold our politicians accountable for these senseless crimes. We need to demand that they restore safety to our neighborhoods.”

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