November 12, 2019

Jewish Community Grief-Stricken by Poway Synagogue Shooting

A makeshift memorial was placed by a light pole a block away from a shooting incident where one person was killed at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019. REUTERS/John Gastaldo

The April 27 shooting at Chabad of Poway in San Diego County has left the Jewish community saddened and outraged.

Sixty-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye was killed in the attack. Chabad Senior Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, lost his right index finger in the shooting, and 8-year-old Noya Dahan and her 34-year-old uncle, Almog Peretz, sustained shrapnel wounds. All were treated at a nearby hospital and later discharged.

Authorities arrested the alleged shooter — a 19-year-old white male — and are treating the shooting as a hate crime.

Jewish National Fund President Dr. Sol Lizerbram said in a statement that Gilbert-Kaye was “a pillar of our community and the Jewish people,” and lauded the fact she and her husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, frequently bought trees to be planted in Israel.

“My wife, Lauren, and I are taking the first step to ensure that Lori’s name and spirit live on in perpetuity as we plant a forest in Israel in her loving memory, and we ask our friends across the nation to join us,” Lizerbram said.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, “It’s truly heartbreaking to see yet another tragedy on Shabbat but also on a day when we celebrate the end of the Passover festival. Jewish people and those of all faiths should not have to live in fear of going to their house of worship. From Charleston to Pittsburgh to Oak Creek, and from Christchurch to Sri Lanka, and now Poway, we need to say ‘enough is enough.’ ”

“After Pittsburgh, I was sad. Everyday anti-Semitism became violent. We had vigils. We mourned. We cried. And now, after Poway, I’m pissed. After eight days of prayer and ‘crying out from the depths,’ I find another white supremacist, another gunman, another AR15, another dead Jew.” — Rabbi Noah Farkas

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement, “This tragic attack, on the last day of Passover, is a horrific reminder that the flames of hatred still burn strong among some. An attack, on any house of worship, from churches in Sri Lanka and France to synagogues in Jerusalem or Pittsburgh to mosques in Christchurch, are an assault on human dignity and our rights as people of faith to pray to G-d.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Porter Ranch) tweeted, “Our hearts and prayers are with the victims in Poway, California. Pleased to hear that synagogues in Los Angeles are receiving additional protection now.”

The Israeli-American Council (IAC) said in a statement that the shooting is “the product of age-old hate that continues to infect millions around the world. In recent years, anti-Semitic tropes once confined to the fringes of our culture have been increasingly expressed openly and unabashedly, including in mainstream American media.”

The Lawfare Project said in a statement, “We cry out today. We cry out for the dead. We cry out for the injured. We cry out for the Chabad community of San Diego and for our global Jewish community. We cry out for a world where these acts of violence against innocent worshipers have become all too common.”

Rabbi Zach Shapiro of Temple Akiba in Culver City wrote, “In these times when hate crimes attempt to paralyze our community, we reach inward for strength, to one another for support, and to God for healing. And we remember: Hate toward any one group is hate toward all groups.”

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said in a statement, “When will this open-hunting season on Jews end? Once again, American Jews are compelled to ask what more can be done to protect houses of worship, indeed all Jewish institutions, even as we extend our deep condolences to the family and friends of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and full recovery of those wounded, including a child, in this heinous attack during a Shabbat service on the last day of Passover.”

Temple Emanuel clergy said in a statement posted on Rabbi Sarah Bassin’s Facebook page, “Here we just experienced a taste of freedom and redemption on Passover — where we remembered a moment in our history where we broke off the shackles of supremacist ideology. But gunshots shook us from our longing for redemption … and stole away life from our people … again.”

Valley Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Noah Farkas posted to his Facebook page, “After Charlottesville, I was shocked. Tiki torch Nazis marching through the streets shouting ‘Jews will not replace us.’ Something was stirring and no one seems to know how to slow it down. After Pittsburgh, I was sad. Everyday anti-Semitism became violent. We had vigils. We mourned. We cried. And now after Poway, I’m pissed. After eight days of prayer and ‘crying out from the depths,’ I find another white supremacist, another gunman, another AR15, another dead Jew.”

IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous, Rabbi Ronit Tsadok, Rabbi David Kasher, Rabbi Keilah Lebell and CEO Melissa Balaban said in a statement, “These synagogue attacks also come amidst a series of attacks on churches, mosques and temples in this country and around the world. No person should fear violence when entering a house of worship to open their hearts to the Holy One. We pray for an end to this violence and the hatred that fuels it.”

Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe wrote on his Facebook page: “When a Nazi-like cartoon appears in the newspaper of record, when the alt-right has been emboldened and empowered, when anti-Semitic statements come from Congress, when synagogues are continually upping security — we as a society have to be self-critical, vigilant and aware … . We need, as a society, to have greater security in all houses of worship, greater vigilance in monitoring who has access to weapons, greater awareness of mental health issues and less tolerance for any expressions of hatred, with anti-Semitism, quite frankly, heading the list. Screaming about how bad the other guy is will not — I repeat will not — make headway or solve problems. Let’s not make a craven attack at a synagogue the cause for more division among people who want a society of goodness and peace.”