November 21, 2018

After Grieving for Pittsburgh, I Witnessed Thousand Oaks

People comfort each other in Thousand Oaks, CA, where a gunman killed at least 12 people inside a bar on November 7, 2018. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

This was the “next time.”

Words fail, but words right now are all I can muster.

We were on the dance floor, in the middle of the dance floor. I heard two pops, and my first thought was that it was a prank, or a sound effect. Then everyone understood at once what was happening. We all dropped to the floor, and I dove for the side of the room behind some bar tables. I heard more pops, and people yelling to get out and move. I was a few feet from an exit, and I saw people run for the kitchen. I yelled at people to move, to get out, and I was out of the building within five seconds.

My mind flipped a switch. I had work to do. My job was to get to safety and stay alive.

I heard more shots as I ran across the parking lot and up the side of a hill, jumping over scrubby vegetation and trying not to fall. I heard people yelling “No lights!” and we kept running in the dark away from the bar. On the hillside, I saw the blue and orange lights of a police car pulling into the driveway, less than two minutes after the shooting started. Then more shots. We kept running.

At 11:26 p.m., I called my parents. Then I gave my phone to a girl beside me. She had dropped hers and ran. She called her parents, nervous after dialing a wrong number. An off-duty LAPD officer approached us to check that we were OK. He was bleeding from his ear and the bridge of his nose. He told us to keep moving, that the sheriffs would form an inner and outer perimeter and that we should move to them. We kept climbing the hill, and there was another exchange of shots, this time audibly different between the first pops and the gunfire from police.  

Four of us made our way down the other side of the hill, further away from Borderline. I called a couple friends who I thought were inside. One went straight to voicemail, the other rang and rang. I led the four of us down the slope in the dark, navigating around sharp branches and scrub. One of the girls was on the phone with her parents the whole time. I slipped a few times in the dark, unable to see loose dirt or rocks.

The LAPD officer with us kept us together and organized, and on the other side of the hill, through another parking lot, we made our way to the Ventura County Fire Department vehicles where EMTs were treating injuries. A friend of mine was there, and she told me that one of my friends that I couldn’t reach had gotten out. Sometime later I heard from him that the other friend was OK, too, that her phone was still inside the bar.

“I’m very much in shock. The weight of my emotions haven’t hit me yet. As of this writing, I know that two of the victims were friends of mine, at least five were familiar faces at Borderline.”

I stood and paced and wondered for 20 minutes. It was now almost 12:30 a.m., and I knew that I couldn’t get to my car, which was parked right outside the bar. One of my friends offered to drive me home, and I started making my calls to friends and family to let them know that I was on my way home.

At home, I hugged my parents and we watched the news in dread. I posted to Facebook: “Anyone who has seen the news about the shooting at Borderline, I was there, I got out, I’m safely home.” Over the next several hours, I heard from friends, family, and mentors checking on my safety. Some are thousands of miles away. Some I haven’t spoken to in years.

I’m very much in shock. The weight of my emotions haven’t hit me yet. As of this writing, I know that two of the victims were friends of mine, at least five were familiar faces at Borderline. I’m trying to take action while I still have my wits about me.

I want to convey my immense gratitude to the Ventura County Sheriff Department and the VC Fire Department. Their quick response, within two minutes of the shooting, surely saved lives. I send my sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Sgt. Ron Helus, who likely heard the first shots and was there before anyone called 911.

The Borderline community is a tightly-knit and resilient family. We didn’t panic, we acted quickly to preserve life, and we helped each other escape the danger. We continue to support each other in grief as we mourn our friends and family who were taken from us. We did everything right, by instinct and action. And still, 13 people died.

I now join a painful, grief-stricken fellowship of shooting survivors, a membership that I never wished to seek. There is no plan for this. No one ever expects this to happen to them.

Just last week, I met with my rabbi, Paul Kipnes at Congregation Or Ami to talk about the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. I told him, “I hate how we talk about preparing for next time. This was the next time, and there will be more next times.”

He told me “I don’t need to sugarcoat this with you. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Neither of us imagined that this would be the next time. It couldn’t happen here, right?

And it did. This was the next time.


Ben Ginsburg, 23, lives in Woodland Hills and works remotely for the University of California – Davis, Division of Continuing and Professional Education. 

How Do I Put Myself in the Shoes of a Mass Murderer?

People comfort each other as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on “college night,” wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff’s spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

With the level of our national discourse reaching all-time lows, commentators with a bent for “bridge building” have been promoting the character trait of putting oneself in the shoes of the Other—whether that Other is a “deplorable” living in Wisconsin or a progressive living in Brooklyn. 

It’s only by trying to understand one another, the theory goes, that national healing can start.

But what happens when the Other is a mass murderer—like the one from Pittsburgh and now the one from Thousand Oaks? Do I unwittingly honor a murderer by trying to understand what makes him reach such depths of evil and destruction? 

I’m not sure; I hope not. All I know is that I have an incorrigible reflex to try to figure out why people do what they do.

Here are a few questions I struggle with when I see these horrific acts: 

1. When potential killers see the enormous media coverage of these mass shootings, do they feel that it becomes somewhat more “acceptable?” Does media coverage infer an insidious type of credibility independent of the act itself?

2. When someone is miserable and feels he has nothing left to live for—and blames the world for much of his misery– does it make it more likely he will consider such an apocalyptic act, as a way perhaps of giving the world the middle finger and leaving with a “bang”?

3. Is the combination of #1 and #2 above so lethal that the killer loses any ability to make a moral distinction?

4. Does having a gun make it all that much easier? And what kind of change in gun laws can make a real difference?

I’m no expert on mental health. I don’t know what goes on in the mind of a deranged person. It’s possible that the brains of mass murderers all have faulty wiring—whether that faultiness comes from irrational hatred, child abuse or the trauma of fighting in a war.  

But mental health or not, I often wonder if there are life factors and circumstances that can turn a human being with “normal” brain wiring into a monster who can walk into a synagogue or a bar and start shooting.

Or whether people who were damaged psychologically as children are now exposed in our new world to a lot more triggers than earlier eras.

That’s as much “understanding” as I can muster for now.

VC Sheriff Sgt., 11 Others Killed in Shooting in Thousand Oaks Dance Club; Shooter Identified as Former Marine

Update at 8:24 p.m.: Rabbi Chaim Bryski told the Journal he had been with the families and community at Los Robles Regional Medical Center since 6:15 a.m.

“I woke up at 6:15 a.m. and went over to the teen center where 1,500 people were and people from Chabad,” Bryski said. “We were all still in shock. So devastating. There was nothing to say. I was there all day in case someone needed a rabbi or someone to cope with.”

Bryski was shocked that something like this could happen in Thousand Oaks because “it’s one of the safest cities in the country.”

“We need to bring light where there is darkness… I was silliest, I had nothing to say, I could only be there for them and listen.”

Bryski thanked the first responders and the 60 police officers who guarded the area, shaking their hands and even praying with them.

The Chabad rabbi was moved by all the love and support that came rushing in. He mentioned that people who experienced other shootings came to speak and support those in Thousand Oaks.

“During times where there’s so much senseless evil, there’s so many good things happening too,” Bryski said.

THOUSAND OAKS, CA – NOVEMBER 08: Rabbi Chaim Bryski, of Chabad of Thousand Oaks, hugs Oxnard Police Officer Mike Wood after a morning prayer before the procession for Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus outside Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks on Thursday morning, November 8, 2018. Helus died at the hospital after entering the scene of a mass shooting during college night at a Thousand Oaks nightclub. Authorities believe Ian David Long, a 28-year-old veteran, is the shooter and among the 13 dead. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

-Erin Ben-Moche contributed to this story.

Update at 5:14 p.m.: One more victim has been identified

Dan Manrique, a Marine Corp Veteran and Pacific Region GM for Team RWB (Red, White and Blue)

Update at 4:27 p.m.: Two more victims have been identified

Kristina Morisette, a graduate of Simi Valley High School, was working at the front door of Borderline

Telemachus Orfanos went to Moorpark College and lives in Thousand Oaks.

Update at 2:36 p.m.: Two more victims have been identified:

Blake Dingman, 21, of Newbury Park

Jake Dunham, 21, of Newbury Park

Update at 2:16 p.m.: City of Thousand Oaks says overflow parking for tonight’s vigil at the Civic Arts Plaza will be at the Lakes. Doors will open at 5.

Update at 1:33 p.m. Two more victims have been identified:

Noel Sparks, 21, a student at Moorpark College.

Sean Adler, who owned Rivalry Roasters Coffee in Simi Valley and a former wrestling coach at Royal High School in Simi Valley.

Update at 12:44 p.m.: Organizers of the blood drive at La Reina High School are overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to give and are asking donors who aren’t in line yet to return tomorrow or locate another donation site on the Vitalant website. There is another blood drive at the Thousand Oaks Inn Best Western 75 West, Thousand Oaks.

Update at 11:56 a.m.: Two more victims have been identified.:

Justin Meek, 23, a Cal Lutheran grad who was a bouncer at Borderline.

Alaina Housley, 18, a freshman at Pepperdine University.

Update at 10:34 a.m.: One of the victims has been identified as Cody Coffman, 22 of Camarillo by his father, Jason Coffman. He was preparing to join the military.

A mass shooting during College Night at Borderline Bar & Grill, a Country Western dance bar in Thousand Oaks, left 12 dead, including a Ventura County Sheriff Sergeant. The gunman, identified as Ian David Long, 28, a former Marine, was also killed. Authorities estimate there were hundreds of people inside at the time of the shooting, most of them under the age of 25.

Students from Cal State Channel Islands, Pepperdine University, Moorpark College, Cal Lutheran University and other schools in the area would regularly come Wednesday nights for Borderline’s College Night. The website advertised dance lessons would be given at 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.. The popular venue has been around for more than 20 years.

The shooting reportedly started at 11:20 p.m. when eyewitnesses told authorities that the shooter, who had been wearing all black, threw a smoke grenade into the bar before opening fire first on a security guard/bouncer at the door. Blood could be seen on the steps to the front entrance.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean identified the gunman as Long, a Marine veteran from nearby Newbury Park. The suspect was armed with a Glock 21 .45-caliber handgun, with an extended magazine, that he had purchased legally, Dean said. In April, Dean said his department was called to Long’s home for a “disturbance” where deputies found him acting irate, but he was not deemed mentally unfit. There is no motive at the time. Long’s body was reportedly found inside an office near the main entrance and it appeared that he died of what authorities say was likely a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Several people at the bar used stools and chairs to break windows and help others to safety. Reports indicated that several others had holed up in the bathroom and rafter of the large dance club, which its web site says measures more than 2,500 feet. Family and friends could be seen by news helicopters gathered in the parking lot of the nearby Janss Mall and at a gas station outside the perimeter to await news.

Dean reported at a press conference early Thursday morning that VC Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who was shot after he entered the building, died at a hospital around 2 a.m. Thursday. Helus, 54, and a passing highway patrolman were responding to several 911 calls when they arrived at the bar a little after 11:20 p.m., the sheriff said. They heard gunfire and went inside.

A procession will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday for Helus, whose body will be transported via motorcade from Los Robles Regional Hospital in Thousand Oaks.

Several people who were interviewed, either after escaping the bar or while waiting for loved ones, said that as country music fans, many were also at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in October 2017, where a gunman killed 58 people outside the Mandalay Bay.

Security at local synagogues was ramped up Thursday morning and there are helicopters that can be seen and heard all over the area.

Rabbi Chaim Bryski of Chabad of Thousand Oaks spoke to KTLA 5:  “When you have 12 lights extinguished – we have to become their hands and feet. We need to pick up the phone, and call someone — perhaps you don’t like — bring more goodness; bring more kindness. Bring more dance and joy. At such time of heart ache, there is nothing to say. Just be there. What can I do to make the world a better place, a more loving place?”

He also encouraged those who have tefillin to put them on today, and attend the Thursday night vigil at the Civic Center.

An email from Rabbi Bary Diamond at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks included a reminder:

Let the emotions, born of our pain, lead us away from hatred 
Passions are a flame. If placed well, they can warm us and urge us to act; if allowed to roam free, our passions can destroy our surroundings and ourselves. The senseless hatred that led to the destruction of the Second Temple was also born out of passions. Let our passions urge us to act, but let that first act be one of compassion and understanding, and, only if necessary, of confrontation and combat. Let our passions burn, but let them burn wisely.
The email ended by encouraging congregants to attend the Thursday night vigil and a healing Shabbat service on Friday evening at the temple.

President Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he has been “fully briefed on the terrible shooting.” He praised law enforcement, saying “great bravery shown by police” and “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims.”

Rep. Julia Brownley (D) who represents the of the 26th District, on Twitter:

I am deeply, deeply saddened by the horrific news of a mass shooting at Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks. To the families of the 11 victims and Sgt. Ron Helus – I cannot even begin to fathom the pain you are experiencing, but please know that our community is here for you.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti shared on Twitter:

Our hearts break for @CityofTO and @VENTURASHERIFF for last night’s tragedy. @LAFD sent 5 engineer companies and a battalion chief to help at the request of our neighbors and we stand ready to help in any way you need. Wrapping our arms of love around you. EG

Governor Jerry Brown sent out this message on Twitter:

Our hearts ache today for the victims of this heinous act and our deepest condolences are with the Thousand Oaks community and those who lost friends and loved ones. We are grateful for law enforcement and others, including Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who took heroic actions to save lives last night.

According to the Ventura County Fire Department PIO, a Family Unification Center has been set up at 1375 E. Janss Rd in Thousand Oaks. For information please call the Hotline 1(805)465-6650.

Los Robles Hospital is looking for blood donors, especially those with O negative blood, for patients in critical condition. A blood drive is being held at La Reina High School, 106 W. Janss Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 877-25-VITAL or on the Vitalant website. By noon on Thursday, the line was out the parking lot and down the sidewalk on Janss Road.

A community vigil will be held at the Fred Kavli Theater at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Thousand Oaks Civic Center at the intersection of Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Dallas Drive.

Donations can be made through the Ventura County Community Foundation.

We will update the story as we get more information.

Talking to Your Children About Pittsburgh

While the Los Angeles community has come together to remember and honor the victims from the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue, many parents are asking, “How do we talk to our children about this terrible tragedy?”  

“It really depends on if you think your child is going to be exposed to it any way,” Samantha Bookman, a therapist, told the Journal in a phone interview. “I work with families where the grandparents always have the radio on in the car. If your child is going to hear about it, I don’t think any age is too young. You have to address it.”

Bookman said offering up the bare minimum is the best course of action, and then if your children ask a follow-up question, “answer it. You don’t need to answer a bunch of questions your child isn’t asking.”

Bookman, who lives in Agoura Hills, said she told her 11-year-old son about what happened in Pittsburgh but not her 8-year-old daughter. Her children attend a Waldorf-based school, where there’s a big emphasis on protecting childhood. As a result, younger kids’ exposure to the media is limited. 

“I was cautiously optimistic [my daughter] would not hear about this,” Bookman said. “And just because of her age and personality, I knew it would be a lot more difficult for her than for my son.” 

When talking to her son about what happened, Bookman said she was factual and straightforward. “I didn’t go into any specifics. I didn’t tell him anything about what the gunman said. I just said he went into the synagogue and shot and wounded a bunch of people and killed a lot of people. Then I answered his questions. And then we just sat there and held each other and talked about how sad and scary it was.”

“If your child is going to hear about [the tragedy], I don’t think any age is too young. You have to address it.” — Samantha Bookman

Bookman said her son said something along the lines of, “I thought people hating Jews and wanting to kill us was a really long time ago.” She told him there was definitely a pattern, this has been around a long time and is also why most of the Jewish holidays talk about it.

Bookman, who belongs to Congregation Or Ami, did make a point, though, to shield her son from the media coverage and community services. “I didn’t want to make it any more real for him than it already was,” she said. 

She also reassured him that “those sad things happened at a synagogue really far away, but it didn’t happen in our synagogue and we’re really safe at our synagogue.”

Sinai Temple Rabbi Erez Sherman’s children are 3, 5 and almost 7. He told the Journal they have very little inkling of what happened in Pittsburgh. However, he has spent the past week speaking with and comforting his school’s students and parents.

“The day after [the shooting], during our morning tefilah, we held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives and also acknowledged that our synagogue is really a safe place,” he said. “When I went to the third and fourth grades, I talked about it mostly through music, which is sort of a healing power.” 

Sherman also encouraged students to share their feelings. Some said they felt scared, exhausted and fearful, while others said they felt safe, because they were surrounded by their community.

When asked what people can do in the coming weeks and months to support their children, Sherman suggested building deeper relationships within your synagogue.

“A synagogue is there in times of joy and sorrow,” he said. “The fact that tomorrow we are having a bar mitzvah but also a memorial service is exactly what a synagogue needs to be. Make sure your synagogue is a place where you can laugh and cry all at the same time.”

‘There Are No Words’: Pittsburgh Paper Puts Hebrew Words of Mourning On Front Page

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette posted the first four words to the Mourner’s Kaddish in Hebrew on the front page of their Friday newspaper and on the top of their website.

Here is a picture of it:

David M. Shribman, the executive editor of the Post-Gazette, wrote that he decided to put those words in Hebrew when he realized that when “there are no words to express a community’s feelings, then maybe you are thinking in the wrong language.”

Shribman felt that by doing so, it brought “our readers to the heart of the incident that has marked our community, and displaying the heart of this community, including of course the Post-Gazette community” on the first Shabbat since the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.

“This week, each entire congregation — indeed all of Pittsburgh — may well stand, in spirit if not in fact, for if Pittsburgh’s passage in the past several days has shown anything, it is that these losses are all of ours, and that the solidarity of Pittsburgh’s grief is the face we have shown to those beyond the three rivers to the four corners of the earth,” Shribman wrote.

Members of the Jewish community praised the Post-Gazette:

The last of the 11 victims of the shooting was buried on Friday.

Last Pittsburgh Shooting Victim Laid to Rest Friday

Screenshot from Twitter.

Rose Mallinger, 97, was the last of the 11 Pittsburgh shooting victims to be laid to rest on Friday.

Mallinger was described as a youthful 97-year-old, being full of life and energy and a regular at Tree of Life synagogue, where the shooting occurred.

“Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion,” Mallinger’s family said in a statement. “… It was her place to be social, to be active and to meet family and friends.”

“She retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day She did everything she wanted to do in her life.”

Mallinger leaves behind three children, five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was wounded in the shooting. She is currently in stable condition.

Three More Pittsburgh Victims Laid to Rest Thursday

A man prays at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Three more Pittsburgh shooting victims were laid to rest on Thursday: married couple Sylvan and Bernice Simon – 86 and 84 respectfully – and Dr. Richard Gottfried, 65.

The Simons had been married for 62 years, and were married at the Tree of Life synagogue. They were regular attendees at the synagogue.

Sylvan was a retired accountant and military veteran who enjoyed watching sports, particularly the Pittsburgh Pirates, and cracking jokes Bernice, a former nurse, was an avid cook who enjoyed going with her daughter, Michele Simon Weis, to sample food at Costco, engaging in philanthropy and listening to classical music.

She was always there for me,” Weis said at her parents’ funeral. “She was my very best friend.”

The couple was known for being warm and friendly; for instance, they’d hold hands as they wave at the children playing baseball nearby the synagogue.

Their house was also adorned with “Support Our Troops” and “God Bless America” stickers as well as a picture of Mount Rushmore emblazoned with the words “America the Beautiful.”

The entire Simon family was planning on getting together for a family birthday celebration after the Saturday morning services at Tree of Life, but the celebration never occurred due to the shooting.

“Let’s take my parents’ great love, admiration and understanding for each other, which they shared with all of us, to serve as a beacon of light for everyone to shine throughout the world in an attempt to mitigate – and ultimately eliminate – the kind of hatred that fostered this horrific event,” Marc Simon, the son of Sylvan and Bernice, said at the funeral.

Dr. Richard Gottfried was a dentist who was planning for retirement before the shooting occurred. He and his wife, Dr. Margaret “Peg” Durachko, ran private dental practices together as well as volunteered at free dental clinics.

Gottfried was a father-like figure to many, including to his grand-nephew, Jacob, 16, whose father died when he was 9.

When my dad passed away, he was really supportive in that time and he was just an awesome person to talk to and be around,” Jacob told Time.

Gottfried was also a lover of wine and University of Pittsburgh sports teams.

“Evil took him away,” Durachko told station WTAE through a friend. “And she wants people to know that the only way we can honor Rich is to start destroying that evil when we see it in our own lives, and start filling it with love, filling it with service, and trying to make a difference. And that will be Rich’s legacy.”

How to Make Memorial Glass Candleholders

In this weekly column I typically come up with a craft project or explore a decorating trend, but this week it seemed almost trivial in the context of the devastating tragedy in Pittsburgh. Then I remembered that the heart of what I try to communicate is creativity. And creativity is something that we need to promote more than ever. Why? Because creativity, or the act of creating, is the opposite of destruction. With all the negative forces in the world right now, it’s pretty much our duty to create as much as we can. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and we, made in his image, are meant to create. Creativity doesn’t just mean arts and crafts. We create by writing poetry, cooking, playing the ukulele, sewing, you name it — all of which can lift up humanity instead of tearing it down. 

This week, I present a project that pays tribute to those we lost at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill. We can make candleholders with the names of the deceased permanently written on the glass, so as we kindle the candles to mourn and remember the victims, their names will stand out in the light. 

What you’ll need:
Clear glass candleholder
Oil-based markers
Sand
Candle

1. You can use either a cylindrical or globe-type candleholder, but I find the cylindrical ones easier to write on, as the sides are flat rather than curved. For writing, use oil-based markers, which write easily on glass and stay permanent once dry. A regular Sharpie will not work. You can find oil-based markers at arts and crafts stores. (And yes, Sharpie does make an oil-based version.)

2. Follow the instructions on the marker about how to get the ink to flow into the nib. Then write the names of the deceased on the glass. I used a black marker, but you can use any color you wish. It helps to do a practice run on a piece of paper so you can gauge how large your writing should be and how you should space out the lines. 

3. If you want, draw additional elements on the glass with markers of other colors. For my candleholder, I drew Stars of David with a gold marker to separate the names. Again, do some practice runs on paper if you’re planning on drawing anything. Let the ink air-dry and cure for eight hours before handling.

4. Before placing the candle in the candleholder, line the bottom with about a half-inch of sand. The sand will catch the melted wax so it doesn’t get stuck on the bottom of the glass. 


Jonathan Fong is the author of “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.

 

To Honor Cecil and David

Screenshot from Twitter.

I never met Cecil and David Rosenthal, may their memories always be a blessing, but I knew them. I can see Cecil, described as a “gentle giant” by his family and many, many friends, standing at the front door of the Tree of Life sanctuary, greeting everyone who arrived there with a broad smile and a strong handshake. I can hear him offering every person who came through those doors a warm word of welcome – “Shabbat shalom!,” “Good morning!” His brother-in-law, Michael Hirt, said in his eulogy that Cecil could have been the mayor of Pittsburgh, if not for his developmental challenges, challenges he triumphantly overcame to be the most beloved person in the community.

His brother David, quieter by nature, was no less beloved, admired for his fastidiousness, taking care to hand out siddurim (prayer books) to those arriving and ensuring the tallitot (prayer shawls) were lovingly cared for. They were the “greeters,” the “ambassadors,” the m’kablei panim, the “face” of the sacred community.

How sadly ironic that these warm souls were murdered in cold blood by a stranger with anti-Semitism flowing through his veins on the very Shabbat when we read the Torah portion Vayeira. We learn the story of Abraham and Sarah’s tent, the classic text teaching us the deep Jewish value of hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests. Sitting in the heat of the day at the entrance of his tent, three strangers appear to Abraham. He runs to greet them – “My lords, if it please you, do not go past your servant.” Did Abraham know who these men were? In that split second of recognition, did Abraham wonder if there was malice in their hearts or were they just wanderers in search of a morsel of bread and a drink of water? It did not matter to Abraham. He ran to greet the strangers, as, undoubtedly, so did Cecil and David, who cared not whether those entering the synagogue were members or guests, rich or poor, gay or straight, Republican or Democrat. What they never imagined was that a stranger filled with hate for Jews would enter a welcoming sanctuary intent on massacre.

I am devastated by the loss of these two sweet men who were so deeply valued by a community who appreciated their greetings. And I am heartbroken that we will once again consider the awful necessity of  “hardening the targets” – our synagogues, schools, centers, campuses and organizations. There will be those who assert that we must do this, no matter the cost both economically and spiritually, in order to protect our people against those who seek to do us harm. There will be others who will say that security guards with pistols would have no chance against a crazed assassin wielding an AR-15.

I wonder what Cecil and David would have us do. Somehow, I believe they would understand the need for security measures on the perimeter of the building, but they would teach the guards how to say “Shabbat Shalom” or “Shana Tova” to everyone, even as they search purses and tallit bags, as many of our wonderful security personnel already do. I know they would never want us to stop greeting each other. They would likely tell us how wonderful it would be if all of us knew each other like they did, for building a community of relationships begins by telling each other our stories, by knowing each other’s names, by being there for each other in good times…and bad.

This Friday night and Saturday morning, tens of thousands of us will stream into our synagogues for Solidarity Shabbat services to stand with the Pittsburgh Jewish community. There will be beautiful prayers and words of comfort. There will be “regulars” and many guests. There will be heightened security, likely causing delays to enter our buildings, and crowded pews filled with those we know and those we don’t.

Let us honor the memory of Cecil and David by practicing their art of hospitality and welcome each other with a smile, a handshake, and a warm embrace. As we join together to grieve and remember, let us resolve that “the Rosenthal boys” would want us to never allow hate to trump love.


Dr. Ron Wolfson is Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University and the co-author of Relational Judaism Handbook.

Nearly 1,000 People Protest Trump’s Visit to Pittsburgh

A woman holds a sign with a picture from preschool television show Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood during a march in memory of the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 30, 2018. Fred Rogers grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the shootings occurred and broadcast his popular children’s show from Pittsburgh. REUTERS/Jessica Resnick-Ault

President Trump is visiting Pittsburgh in the aftermath of the Oct. 27 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill; approximately 1,000 people reportedly protested his visit because of his rhetoric.

The protesters were on a street close to the Tree of Life synagogue, where Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner were visiting. Among the signs at the protests were “Words Matter,” “President Hate is not welcome in our state” and “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering minorities.”

Protesters also chanted, “No more hate!” and turned their backs on the presidential motorcade.

Prior to the protests, Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish organization, told Trump in a letter that they don’t’ want him in Pittsburgh unless he denounces white nationalism.

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” the letter stated. “You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”

However, Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers told CNN, “The president of the United States is always welcome. I am a citizen. He is my president. He is certainly welcome.”

At the Tree of Life synagogue, Trump and his family lit candles for each of the deceased in the shooting and placed stones and roses at Star of David memorials for each of the victims.

“I’m just going to pay my respects,” Trump told Fox News. “I’m also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt. So — and I really look forward to going — I would have done it even sooner, but I didn’t want to disrupt anymore.”

Jewish Man Shot and Killed in North Hollywood

Screenshot from Twitter.

A Jewish man was shot and killed in North Hollywood at 10:15 P.M. on Oct. 29 and a second person was wounded.

According to The Yeshiva World, the Jewish man, 30, was inside a residence at the 6400 block of Denny Avenue, close to Victory Boulevard; he has not been publicly identified. The second person, 23,  is in stable condition at Holy Cross Hospital after being treated for a gunshot wound in his upper body.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s report states that the suspect is a Hispanic male in the 45-50-year-old age range and the shooting stemmed from an argument between the two.

The investigation remains ongoing.

More to come…

This post has been updated.

Response to Pittsburgh? Let’s Go to Shul This Shabbat

A view of the KAM Isaiah Israel Synagogue in 2013. Photo by Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

What is the proper response to Pittsburgh? Grief, yes. Sorrow, yes. Anger, yes. Resolve, yes. Unity, yes.  Surprise, no. Fear, no. My dear rabbi, Rabbi David Wolpe, likes to say that we in America live in a golden age of Judaism after 2,000 years of persecution, fear, torture, murder, hiding and being on the run from land to land.  Now we are living in a country where we are generally treated with warmth and respect by our Christian, Muslim and other non-Jewish neighbors, friends and strangers. We need to be grateful for this.

During the martyrology service this year on Yom Kippur I reflected on how our forebears dared to worship in public, despite Roman orders not to, and paid the ultimate price for it, sometimes in unbelievably cruel ways. Yet the synagogue I attended was nearly empty. It’s a funny thing about freedom — some things we just take for granted. I do. We all do.

Two other prayers stood out for me during the same service. One prayer was for our fellow Jews in other places who are being persecuted. Miraculously, I could not think of one country where this is systematically occurring on a daily basis. Anti-Semitism, yes. But active persecution –even in countries that don’t particularly like us — no, partly because we have been driven out of many countries and are choosing to leave others, because finally after 2 millennia we have a choice. Perhaps it is because we have the United States on our side and countries would face sanctions and far worse. Perhaps because we ourselves have the will and means with which to fight back.

The other prayer is that we should be in Israel next year. But how many Jews have never been to Israel, actively criticize it, don’t support it or don’t stand up to the insidious anti-Semitism that is the BDS movement or to the bullying of our children on their college campuses? As I said, some things we just take for granted.

“By going to synagogue this Shabbat, we can show our resolve and we can thank God for living in such a wonderful country.”

I do not mean to imply that I am saying I am “religious.” I am not, by standard measures, but I am proudly a Jew. I was reading the Wall Street Journal Saturday morning when I happened to see a friend’s text about “what happened in Pittsburgh.”  So the first thought I had, after I had the chance to digest the news, is that I should have been in synagogue that day and I vowed that I would next Shabbat. I texted my kids and told them they should go, too. My brother asked me if we had armed security at our synagogue. The answer happens to be yes, but I go to a high-profile temple (I do not wish to get into the politics of that whole issue except to say that I think we could all agree that no one needs a personal arsenal of military assault weapons). Not every synagogue might make this choice, and law enforcement has vowed to increase its presence. The good news is that 99.99% of Americans are not sociopathic anti-Semitic killers with personal arsenals. So our response shouldn’t be fear.

My suggested response to Pittsburgh? Let’s go to shul this Shabbat.  Let’s fill up ALL the synagogues this Shabbat. Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, LGBT, it doesn’t matter. If you normally go to synagogue, bring your children. If they usually go, have them bring their friends. Bring your friends. Bring your neighbors. By going to synagogue this Shabbat, we can show our resolve and we can thank G-d for living in such a wonderful country. By doing so, we can exercise our precious First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly all at the same time.

G-d bless America and the Jewish people.


Dr. Joel Geiderman is the former vice-chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is the California chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

The Devil’s Paradise in Pittsburgh

I got the chills when I heard about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 Shabbat worshippers dead and many others injured, including four police officers.

For the rabid Jew-hater who entered the synagogue, it must have been a devil’s paradise: Look at all those Jews in one place!

I have had that dark thought for years, and have never shared it with anyone. The thought usually comes when I’m in synagogue. I look at all the Jews around me and think: My God, it’d be so easy for any Jew-hater with a gun to walk in and start mowing us down.

And then I think: There are thousands of similar “Jew houses” throughout our country that are such easy prey. In virtually any town in America, a Jew-hater with a gun and a GPS has the pick of the Jewish litter.

So, when I heard about the Pittsburgh massacre, a tiny voice inside me asked: What took the bastards so long?

We Jews in America are eons away from the days of pogroms and inquisitions when many of our ancestors had to take their Judaism underground. We live in a wide open country, with celebrity rabbis, beautiful synagogues, and, above all, freedom—the freedom to express ourselves and worship as we please.

But a free society doesn’t mean a society free of evil.

Evil can’t be legislated away. We can punish it, we can try to minimize it, but we can’t eradicate it. The same freedom that allows the greatness of a Martin Luther King allows the darkness of the Pittsburgh killer. We’re free to love, but we’re also free to hate. We’re free to choose happiness, but we’re also free to choose misery.

To be able to enter a house of prayer and murder innocent souls must be the height of misery and depravity. I think of all the Tree of Life families whose lives have been suddenly shattered, whose futures have been irreparably darkened.

We go to synagogue to connect with community, schmooze with friends, hear words of wisdom, pray with God. We don’t go to risk our lives; we go to elevate them.

“Our priority in this issue of the Journal was to honor the victims of the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.”

Tragedies like the one at the Tree of Life can shake our confidence and weaken our resolve. To gird ourselves, we need “explanations” and “calls to action.” They make us feel useful, resilient. 

But there’s also the imperative to simply grieve—to reflect on the victims and comfort their families. Yes, there’s been too much politicization of the Pittsburgh tragedy, but there’s also been an enormous outpouring of grief and condolence calls from around the world.

Our priority in this issue of the Journal was to honor the victims of the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. Our Senior Writer Kelly Hartog flew to Pittsburgh to interview locals and report on how the community is coping. We have a spread devoted to the 11 victims. Our columnists all touch on Pittsburgh. We have reactions from the local community and, among other things, a  poem and a prayer.

With all of the grieving, we must still try to look ahead. So, on our back page, we interview an expert who discusses the security challenge and what can de done to make our Jewish public places safer.

Maybe that’s how the Jews have survived for so long — we balance the stillness of grieving and prayer with the imperative of moving forward. 

When I researched the Tree of Life synagogue on the internet, I came across a recent sermon by its spiritual leader, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, that was titled, “Now What?”

“We have passed through the non-stop Fall holiday phase, hopefully feeling grateful for the life that God has blessed us with,” the rabbi said.  “We have now entered a nearly two-month period without any holiday celebrations until Chanukah.  Now what?  What can fill the gap?”

“We may see an extra security guard or two at synagogue this Shabbat, but that’s only to remind us that the best things in life are worth protecting.”

He then makes several suggestions. Here are the first two:

1. “Commit to attending weekday morning minyan once per week.  By doing so, you will ensure a minyan for those of us reciting Kaddish, be it as mourners or for a yahrtzeit.  You will also have the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with a lovely community of fellow congregants.

2. “Attend either Friday evening services or Shabbat morning services once per month.  Friday evening services are one hour, filled with singing and joy.  Shabbat morning services are less than 2 ½ hours, complete with Torah discussion and a delicious Kiddush lunch.”

I can’t think of a better way to honor the victims of the Tree of Life than to follow their rabbi’s suggestions. We may see an extra security guard or two at synagogue this Shabbat, but that’s only to remind us that the best things in life are worth protecting.

Jewish World Reacts to the ‘Deadliest Attack on the Jewish Community’

At least 11 people were killed and 10 others were injured at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday morning during a bris, according to Curt Conrad, chief of staff for Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor.

According to NBC News, the alleged gunman has been identified 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who was shot at least once by police during the exchange of gunfire at the synagogue. He was taken to the hospital and is undergoing treatment.

The Times of Israel reports that Bowers had an account on the far-right social media platform Gab, where his profile read: “Jews are the children of the Satan.” He also railed against HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society], a nonprofit that provides humanitarian aid to immigrants and refugees.

Bowers also reportedly shouted “All Jews must die!” during the shooting.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, “It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning, and unthinkable that it would happen in the United States of America in this day and age.”

“Our hearts break for the families of those killed and injured at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and for the entire Jewish community of Pittsburgh,” Greenblatt said. “We believe this is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. We are actively engaged with law enforcement to support their investigation and call on authorities to investigate this as a hate crime.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center released this statement:

“We are sickened by this horrific attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s historic Jewish neighborhood. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the dead and injured as well as the rest of the congregation and Jewish community.”

“We urge President Trump to immediately convene an emergency meeting of religious leaders to help stop the slide to extremism in American Society,“ said Rabbi Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, Dean and Founder and Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action said in a statement released Saturday night in Austria, Vienna.

“Americans need and want leadership from both sides of the political aisle to stop the continuous slide to the brink. The President should also immediately convene a cross section of faith leaders to help turn the tide against hate and extremism.

“This Wednesday the SWC will release a national poll that shows a plurality of Americans believe the US is headed to a Civil War,” the rabbis concluded.

U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) issued the following statement:

“Once again, a vicious act of malice has transformed a place of worship into a crime scene. While federal officials work with local and state law enforcement to investigate this tragedy, what we do know is clear: This was a hate crime of horrific proportions.

“Antisemitism has no place in our society. If we fail to commit in fighting against such hatred together, I fear it will continue to plague our country and lead to more senseless killings like what we saw this morning in Pittsburgh.

“Our hearts break for the victims, their families, and the entire Tree of Life Synagogue community. May their memories be a blessing to all.”

The Union for Reform Judaism also issued the following statement:

The slaughter of our brothers and sisters praying in their holy synagogue this Shabbat in Pittsburgh breaks our collective heart.

The murders took place during a prayer service in the Tree of Life congregation where, like synagogues all around the world, they were reading from Genesis recounting how Abraham welcomed perfect strangers into his tent. How painful and ironic that we live in a time when we have to temper our loving welcome of strangers as we protect our communities from violence and hate.

There is much which is unknown about today’s horrific killings. We will learn more over the next hours and days. We will continue to work with our nation’s synagogues and other houses of worship and law enforcement to enhance security and provide effective protections for our communities – and our nation.

This time the Jewish community was targeted, in what may be the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history. Other times it has been African-Americans. Or Sikhs. Or Muslims. Or members of the LGBTQ community. Or too many others. What we know is this: the fabric holding our nation together is fraying. It is our task to ensure that it does not come apart.

Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks said in a letter to their congregants that they plan on beefing up their security in response to the shooting:

This morning we were shocked and saddened to learn of a mass shooting during Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. In response, we have taken immediate steps to increase the security presence on our campus.
We are monitoring national and local law enforcement communications; at this time there are no known threats to our community. We continue to work with law enforcement to evaluate and ensure we have adequate security measures in place on our campus.
We mourn this horrific shooting and stand with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh during this traumatic time.
Our hearts go out to the all those who have been affected by this senseless act of terror. May the memory of these innocent victims be a blessing.
The Israeli-American Council released this statement:
The Israeli-American Council is horrified by the tragic news this morning of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where innocent people were murdered in cold blood and others were injured, including numerous police officers. 

Our community mourns the loss of our brothers and sisters who were savagely killed on a Shabbat morning simply because they were Jews, and as they were praying together and celebrating the arrival of a newborn to the community. Our prayers go out to the fallen loved ones and to the injured. 

Today’s events are yet another reminder that the age-old evil of anti-Semitism remains a uniquely dangerous and destructive force in our world. Slaughtering Jews whether they are worshipping at a synagogue in Pittsburg, shopping at a Kosher supermarket in Paris, or walking on the streets of Jerusalem is just the extreme manifestation of this ongoing scourge. We must remain united and vigilant against this heinous evil and fight it wherever it rears its ugly head. 

We are all one Jewish family. At difficult moments like this, Jews of all denominations and political leanings must come together to provide comfort, healing, and strength to each other. The IAC is committed to lead these efforts in our communities from coast to coast. We will continue our fight against hate and anti-Semitism. 

We thank the law enforcement community that rushed to the synagogue and stopped this horrific attack.  

Baruch Dayan Emet. May the memory of the fallen be for the blessing. 

The Israel Project noted the recent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in a statement:
The Israel Project condemns the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, mourns the loss of life, and expresses our support for the victims and their families at this difficult time. The attack was clearly motivated by anti-Semitism – a growing trend in the U.S. that can no longer be ignored or explained away.

According to the ADL, 2017 saw a 60% increase in acts of assault, harassment, and vandalism against Jews and Jewish institutions. In 2018, there are more people running for elected office in this country, who espouse anti-Semitic views, than ever before.  FBI statistics show over 50% of religious Hate Crimes are attacks on American Jews. These are shocking developments and our community needs to begin a serious dialogue about how to respond effectively. 

Joshua S. Block, CEO & President of The Israel Project said: “Today is a very sad day for all of America. Targeting people on the basis of religious and cultural identities goes against everything we stand for as Americans and as a country. These tragic events underscore the importance of safeguarding our cherished democratic freedoms. Fighting anti-Semitism is not the responsibility of the Jewish community alone. Fighting anti-Semitism is a responsibility for society at large.”

President Donald Trump in a statement told CNN, “If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him… When people do this, they should get the death penalty,” he said. “Anybody that does a thing like this to innocent people that are in temple or in church … they should be suffering the ultimate price, they should pay the ultimate price.”

More to come…

UPDATE: Amanda Susskind, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Los Angeles Regional Director, told the Journal that the ADL isn’t aware of any current threats in the Los Angeles area but they are on “higher alert.”

“The [LAPD] chief and the [L.A. County] sheriff are good about getting more attention to the Jewish community, especially on Shabbat [and] I think there has been an amped up level of security today,” Susskind said.

Masa Israel Journey shared with the Journal the following statement regarding today’s shooting:

“On behalf of the Masa Israel Journey professional team, participants, and alumni from around the world, I want to express my horror and strongest condemnation of the heinous crime committed this Shabbat morning at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where it is reported that several worshippers were shot and killed with more injured, including police officers.

Media reports suggest that the evil man responsible for this crime murdered the people in this synagogue simply because they were Jewish. Anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred, but it is all too present in our world today, targeting Jews in America, Israel, and all around the world. We must fight this evil in all of its forms.

As Shabbat goes out tonight, the Masa family’s thoughts and prayers will be with the victims and their families. We grieve with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. At this moment of grief and tragedy, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters all around the world.”

BREAKING: Shooting in Van Nuys Injures Two, Puts School on Lockdown

Early Thursday afternoon shots were heard across from CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts Multimedia & Performing, on Van Nuys Boulevard leading the school to go into lockdown.

According to LAPD’s Twitter, officers responded to the area of Vanowen Street and Van Nuys Boulevard around 12:10 p.m.:

LAPD told FOX11 that two people have been injured. They also said they were not the intended targets. The shots came from the Jack in the Box across from the school.

Both Starbucks and Jack in the Box have been evacuated and taped off.

The two suspects fled from where the shooting occurred. One has been arrested while police search for the second suspect.

Van Nuys Boulevard is closed in both directions and traffic is being diverted to Vanowen Street.

This story is ongoing and we will continue to update when more information has been released.

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Annapolis Shooter

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A 38-year-old male who murdered five people and injured two others at the Capital Gazette newspaper on June 28 appears to have a serious vendetta against the paper for reporting on his alleged stalking of a former high school classmate.

The roots of the grudge trace back to 2011, when Capital Gazette writer Eric Thomas Hartley wrote a column describing how the shooter reached out to a female on Facebook he knew from high school. He thanked her for being one of the only people to be nice to him during that period of time and revealed some of the issues he was dealing with.

The messages suddenly became dark and disturbing.

“When it seemed to me that it was turning into something that gave me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, that he seems to think there’s some sort of relationship here that does not exist … I tried to slowly back away from it, and he just started getting angry and vulgar to the point I had to tell him to stop,” the victim said in court when she sued him for harassment charges.

She added that he would send her messages that included, “You’re going to need restraining order now” and “Have another drink and go hang yourself, you cowardly little lush.”

The shooter did eventually plead guilty to the harassment charges. However, he was irked by Hartley’s column about the matter, and sued the paper for defamation. His defamation suit was tossed out in court.

“I think people who are the subject of newspaper articles, whoever they may be, feel that there is a requirement that they be placed in the best light, or they have an opportunity to have the story reported to their satisfaction, or have the opportunity to have however much input they believe is appropriate,” Judge Maureen M. Lamasney told him in 2015. “But that’s simply not true. There is nothing in those complaints that prove that anything that was published about you is, in fact, false. It all came from a public record. It was of the result of a criminal conviction. And it cannot give rise to a defamation suit.”

Former Capital Gazette editor and publisher Thomas Marquardt told The Baltimore Sun, which owns the Capital Gazette, that after the column had been published the shooter harassed the paper for years.

“I was seriously concerned he would threaten us with physical violence,” Marquardt said. “I even told my wife, ‘We have to be concerned. This guy could really hurt us.’ ”

One of the attorneys defending the Capital Gazette, William Shirley, told the New York Daily News, “I remember at one point he was talking in a motion and somehow worked in how he wanted to smash Hartley’s face into the concrete. We were concerned at the time. He was not stable.”

Additionally:

Here’s the header of his Twitter page:

There hadn’t been any tweets issued from the account since 2016, until June 28, when he tweeted, “F––– you, leave me alone.” He had sent the same message to the female victim years ago even though she hadn’t contacted him.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty pointed out that had the shooter been convicted of stalking instead of harassment, it would have been “impossible for him [the shooter] to legally purchase or possess a firearm.”

Hartley and Marquardt are no longer at the paper and were not present at the shooting. None of the victims of the shooting had anything to do with the column that sparked the shooter’s vendetta against the paper.

At Least 5 Dead in Maryland Newspaper Shooting

REUTERS/Greg Savoy

At least five people are reportedly dead and at least 20 others were injured in a shooting at a Maryland newspaper on June 28.

Phil Davis, a crime reporter for the Capital Gazette, tweeted, “Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad.”

Capital Gazette intern Anthony Messenger tweeted that sportswriter John McNamara is among the victims, although the extent of his injuries is not yet known.

The shooter, who has yet to be identified, has been apprehended. He is a white male and is in his 20s.

More to come.

Shooter Kills Self, Injures Three Others At YouTube Headquarters

Law enforcement officials react following a possible shooting at the headquarters of YouTube in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. GRAEME MACDONALD/via REUTERS

A woman entered the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, CA and fired a gun, injuring three people and then killing herself.

The woman, who has not been identified, reportedly shot her boyfriend and others before shooting herself. Three victims of the shooting have have been admitted to San Francisco General Hospital: a 36-year-old man, a 27-year-old woman and a 32-year-old woman. The man is in critical condition, the 27-year-old woman is in fair condition and the 32-year-old woman is in serious condition.

One of the women that was shot reportedly crawled to a nearby Carl’s Jr., where people attempted to help her stop the bleeding.

“I was trying to find tools to help her and I found a bungee cord and I tied that around her leg to stop the blood flow,” a Carl’s Jr. employee told Fox News. “She was scared.”

While the investigation is in the preliminary phase, it is believed that the shooting stemmed from a domestic issue and was therefore not an act of terrorism.

YouTube producer Todd Sherman described on Twitter how some people initially thought an earthquake was happening:

Here is some video footage of people being evacuated from the YouTube headquarters:

A witness to the shooting told Fox News, “I didn’t have a gun on me, but [I] wish I did.”

President Trump tweeted about the shooting:

Two Dead in Central Michigan University Shooting

The site of shooting at Central Michigan University is seen, in Mount Pleasant, U.S., March 2, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. COURTESY of GRANT POLMANTEER /via REUTERS

Two people have died from a shooting that occurred on the Central Michigan University (CMU) campus on March 2.

According to police, the shooting occurred at Campbell Hall and stemmed from some sort “family-type domestic issue,” the specifics of which are not yet known to the public. The two victims were not students at the university and it’s not yet clear what their relation was to the shooter.

The campus itself was put on lockdown when the shooting occurred, with students being told to stay indoors and parents who were planning on picking up students for spring break to stay away from the campus.

On the evening of March 1, the alleged shooter was hospitalized over a drug issue, seemingly an overdose or an unfavorable reaction to the drug. He is 19 years old and was a student Central Michigan University. He fled the campus following the shooting and has yet to be found, although he is still believed to be in the city of Mt. Pleasant. He is armed with some sort of rifle.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) tweeted the following:

CMU is a gun-free zone, the latest to be afflicted by a shooting.

‘I Saw Kids Running and Screaming’: Parkland Rabbi Confronts Horror Scene

The Jewish community in the south Florida suburb of Parkland was devastated last week when four Jewish students and one Jewish teacher – nearly one-third of the casualties – were murdered in the massacre of 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

They are mourning the Feb. 14 deaths of

· Ninth-grader Alyssa Alhadeff

· Ninth-grader Jaime Guttenberg

· Ninth-grader Alexander Schachter

· Senior Meadow Pollack

· Geography teacher and cross country coach Scott Beigel, 35, a hero of the tragedy, killed while trying to slam shut the door of a room where students were hiding.

Shmuley Bifton, rabbi of the largest synagogue in Parkland, a city where Jews have a strong presence, rushed to the campus, two minutes away, as soon as he received a text.

Ever since, the Chabad rabbi has been comforting frightened youngsters and rattled families almost without relief.

No, said Rabbi Bifton, he is not reliving the terrifying scene in his mind as many near-miss students and their families may be doing.

“Honestly, I have not had time to process it myself,” he said during a Saturday night interview. “I am just running now, burying the dead, dealing with the funerals and the shiva houses. I have not had a moment to stop.”

A Florida native who has led Chabad of Parkland for 17 years, Rabbi Bifton said of the community of 31,000:

“This is a very small town, one high school, one middle school.  Everyone knows everyone.

“There are 4,000 Jewish families, and about 500 of them are members of Chabad.”

According to the rabbi, about a third of the high school’s 3,000 students are Jews.

“There is not much you can say. This is a community tragedy…but we will not be defined by this tragedy. We will be defined by our response.”

 

It was a quiet early Wednesday afternoon, while Rabbi Bifton was working in his office around the corner from the school, when he received a text asking if he knew what was happening over at Douglas. He didn’t.

“But I heard helicopters overhead and sirens blaring. I realized I had to get there quick. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew I had to get there.”

As a chaplain for the Broward County Sheriff’s office, Rabbi Bifton was permitted to hurry directly to the front lines of the terror.

“I saw kids running and screaming,” he said. “Parents were running toward the area trying to find their kids. Mass chaos.”

The rabbi’s voice seemed to quiver as he continued to describe the harrowing scene. “Being that I know so many of the students, so many of the parents, they were running over to me. I was trying to call parents, and parents were finding me. I was trying to get ahold of the kids and reunite them with their parents, and get a grip on what was going on. I was speaking to kids who were just absolutely shocked. There was absolute chaos at the moment.”

Rabbi Bifton was asked about a rabbi’s role in this kind of crisis. “At times of tragedy and grief, people turn toward spirituality,” he said. “They are looking for uplifting.”

The rabbi said “Chabad is very well accepted in this community. Two city commissioners and the sheriff are members of Chabad.

“We are very well connected. So naturally we become almost like running point as far as a lot of the recovery, the response, the funerals, the shiva.”

He said Parkland has been ranked as Florida’s safest community numerous times.

Although mass shootings are not new, such a scene as last week’s “never crossed my mind.”

As for comforting those who are grieving, “there is not much you can say. We don’t have the answers. This is a community tragedy. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder. We are going to take real action to make change in our community. We will be there a long time for the recovery.

“Parkland,” Rabbi Bifton vowed, “will not be defined by this tragedy. We will be defined by our response.”

Key Facts About the Salvador Castro Shooting

Screenshot from Twitter

Two students at Salvador Castro Middle School in the Westlake area were shot at around 8:53 a.m. on Thursday while in a classroom, according to various news reports.

Neither student has been publicly identified, but they’re both 15 years old; one is a boy and the other is girl. The girl is in fair condition after being shot in the wrist while the boy is in serious condition after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. Three others, a woman, boy and girl, were also hospitalized for minor injuries, although none of them suffered from gunshot wounds.

A 12-year-old girl, also a student at the school, has been taken into custody as a suspect and a gun was found at the scene of the crime. No motive has yet been determined.

An image was taken of a girl being escorted from the campus in handcuffs, but it is not known if this is the same girl who was taken into custody.

The school was put into lockdown following the shooting but it has since been declared safe and classes will be still be held for the rest of the day.

“Our campus, while it’s on lockdown, is safe,” Los Angeles School Police Department Chief Steven Zipperman told CNN. “There is no more safety threat to the students of this school.”

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Vivian Ekchian told reporters she was “incredibly saddened by the fact that it happened.”

“We remain committed to our students and communities,” said Ekchian. “We will address this issue both in terms of real time mental health support and any other type of support that is necessary for our students to be back and learning.”

In the same press conference, LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia thanked the first responders and said that everyone was “troubled” by the shooting.

“We must remember that healing is possible and there are many resources here across the district and the city to help our young people and their families,” said Garcia.

Rabbi Killed in West Bank Shooting

Screenshot from Twitter.

An Israeli rabbi was murdered in a drive-by shooting on nearby the Havat Gilat outpost.

The victim, 35-year-old Rabbi Raziel Shevach, was driving along Route 60 close to his home in the outpost when gunmen fired 22 bullets at his car as they drove by. Shevach was stricken multiple times in his neck and chest, and eventually succumbed to his injuries at Kfar Saba Meir Medical Center.

A friend of Shevach’s, Rabbi Yehoshua Gelbard, told Haaretz, “Rabbi Raziel was a rare combination of a smart student and devoted to God, who was kind to everyone who surrounded him.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the shooting.

“I am expressing my deep sorrow and sending condolences to the family of Raziel Shevach, who was murdered tonight by a despicable terrorist,” said Netanyahu. “Security forces will do everything possible to reach the contemptible murderer and the State of Israel will bring him to justice.”

Indeed, Israeli forces shut down Route 60 and have been searching for the terrorists that murdered Shevach.

Yesha Council chairman Hananel Dorani blamed the Palestinian Authority for the terror attack due to their policy of paying terrorists. Hamas had nothing but kind words for Shevach’s murderers.

“We bless the heroic Nablus operation which comes as a result of the Zionist occupation’s violations and crimes at the expense of our people in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” the terror organization said in a statement.

Islamic Jihad praised the attack as well.

Shevach leaves behind his wife and six children. His oldest child is 11 years old and his youngest child is eight months old.

Don’t Dismiss the Power of Prayer

This week, a mass shooter in Texas walked into a Baptist church and murdered 26 people, including more than a dozen children. Many conservatives — and many religious people more generally — immediately offered their thoughts and prayers. The most controversial figure to do so was Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who tweeted, “The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now.”

This drove a tsunami of rage from gun control advocates. Actor Wil Wheaton tweeted, “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack of s***.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted, “We have pastors, priests and rabbis to offer thoughts and prayers. What we need from Republicans in D.C. is to do something. Lead.” Keith Olbermann of GQ tweeted in less temperate fashion, “shove your prayers up your ass AND DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE BESIDES PLATITUDES AND POWER GRABS.”

It’s questionable whether some additional law would have prevented the massacre in Sutherland Springs. It’s clear from the evidence that the shooter never should have had a gun: He was convicted of domestic violence, including cracking the skull of his infant stepchild; he’d pleaded guilty to animal abuse; he’d been sending threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church he shot up. The Air Force has openly admitted that it didn’t send his criminal record to the FBI, which would have prevented him from buying weapons under current law.

But there’s something deeper going on here with the anti-prayer tweets — something more troubling. First, dismissing prayer dismisses the value of religion more generally; second, conflating prayer-driven-action with action you like makes religion irrelevant, and your political agenda paramount.

To dismisss the value of prayer after horrific events demonstrates a lack of knowledge about prayer itself — or worse, an antipathy toward the values prayer promotes. Prayer is designed for several purposes. Prayer reminds us that while we must strive each day to prevent evil from succeeding, God’s plan is not ours; we will not always succeed in stopping evil’s victory. That knowledge suggests a certain humility, an unwillingness to surrender to the foolish optimism of utopianism. It’s why Jews say, “Baruch Dayan Emet” (“Blessed is the true judge), upon learning of a death.

Prayer also helps us see the value in others, and convey that we understand that value to others. Atheists say that prayer is nothing but empty verbiage, but how many people have been changed because they entered a prayerful community? The people who died in the church were attempting to reach out to one another and provide one another support. That’s why we pray with a minyan. It’s why we pray communally.

Finally, prayer reminds us that we must better ourselves: We must treat our friends, neighbors and family members better, correct our mistakes. We cannot change God, but we can change how God responds to us if we change ourselves. In this sense, prayer provides the impetus to action.

We have a reactionary tendency to credit our opponent’s worst intentions.

It’s this last rationale for prayer that many on the left have seized upon to the exclusion of the other two. They say, rightly, that action is one of the anticipated outcomes of prayer. That’s fine so far as it goes — but it doesn’t go particularly far when you are making the secular case for gun control, then demanding religious support for it. Just because someone disagrees with you on a remedy to a problem doesn’t mean that their prayers are insincere — or that the goal of their prayers is the same as yours.

Recognizing that simple truth would go a long way toward healing wounds that seem to be festering. We have a reactionary tendency to credit our opponents with the worst intentions, up to and including insincere use of prayer, in order to press them to embrace us, but the opposite is usually the outcome. If you alienate religious people who disagree with you by stating that their prayers are insufficient, they’re likely to stop seeking common ground. That will be your fault, not theirs: You’re cutting them off at the knees.

Just because we disagree on gun control doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray, or that our prayers lack merit. And ripping prayer itself after dozens of Americans are murdered while praying is disrespectful to our fellow citizens and to the religious victims.


Ben Shapiro is a best-selling author, editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire and host of the conservative podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show.”

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Texas Shooter

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, of Braunfels, Texas, U.S., involved in the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, is shown in this undated Texas Department of Safety driver license photo, provided November 6, 2017. Texas Department of Safety/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

At least 26 people were killed and 20 others were injured at Sunday’s shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, TX. The shooter has been identified as Devin Kelley, 26, who is now dead. Who is Kelley, and what was his motive?

Kelley, a former unarmed security guard at a waterpark, has a rap sheet of alleged violence. He plead guilty in 2012 to assaulting his then-wife and stepson; the latter suffered a fractured skull as a result of Kelley’s violence. Kelley was serving in the Air Force at the time and was dishonorably discharged as a result of his actions.

Additionally, Kelley was accused of punching a dog in 2014, an allegation he denied and the charges against him were dropped. Some women have accused Kelley of stalking them, including one who claimed he stalked her when she was 13 years old.

Those who knew in high school described him as being socially awkward and creepy. One former classmate of his told the Daily Mail that Kelley “always creeped me out.” Another wrote on Facebook that Kelley “got in an argument with me in school and tried to punch me several times.”

Other former classmates noted that Kelley frequently berated people online who didn’t subscribe to his atheist worldview.

“He was always talking about how people who believe in God we’re stupid and trying to preach his atheism,” Nina Rose Nava, a former classmate of Kelley’s, wrote on Facebook.

Kelley also recently posted a photo of a firearm resembling an AR-15 to his now deleted Facebook profile, writing “She’s a bad b*tch.” Kelley had an AR-15 and a handgun on him during the shooting.

Under federal law, it is illegal for those who have assaulted or attempted to assault a family member to own a firearm. But Kelley was able to obtain his firearms because the Air Force didn’t provide the FBI with Kelley’s violent history, thus resulting in his background checks to come back clean.

However, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told CNN that Texas denied Kelley from obtaining a right-to-carry permit.

Prior to the shooting, Kelley had reportedly been texting threats to his mother-in-law, Michelle Shields, who is a member of the First Baptist Church in which the shooting took place. Shields was not present at the church at the day of the shooting, but Kelley’s grandmother-in-law, Lula Woicinski White, was at the church and killed by Kelley.

Kelley and his current wife Danielle are reportedly separated.

Kelley fled the scene of his crime after Stephen Willeford, a former National Rifle Association (NRA) instructor, heard the gunshots from across the street and fired his gun at Kelley.

“I know I hit him,” Willeford told a local news station. “He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window. When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again.”

Willeford hopped into another man’s truck and they chased down Kelley. Kelley’s car crashed, and it is believed that he shot himself before law enforcement arrived.

27 Dead in Texas Church Shooting

The area around a site of a mass shooting is taped out in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017, in this picture obtained via social media. MAX MASSEY/ KSAT 12/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

As many as 27 people are dead and 24 others injured in a shooting that occurred Sunday morning in a Texas church. It is the deadliest church shooting in modern U.S. history.

The gunman, identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, entered First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs at 11:30 am local time and fired around 20 shots. The gunman fled the scene and was chased by a local resident into Guadalupe County. It is not known if he killed himself or was killed by the resident.

One of the victims include Annabelle Pomeroy, the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy. Pomeroy told ABC that his daughter “was one very beautiful, special child.”

Multiple others are being treated in nearby hospitals, including three children who are in critical condition.

“My heart is broken,” Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. told CNN. “We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”

Sutherland Springs is a small town of less than 400 people that is about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. Alena Berlanga, who lives close to Sutherland Springs, told the Associated Press that the shooting was “horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town.”

“Everybody’s going to be affected and everybody knows someone who’s affected,” said Berlanga.

President Trump gave his condolences on Twitter:

The Texas senators also issued tweets responding to the situation:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement, “While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act. I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss.”

Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow are raising money for Vegas victims

Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow are joining comedic forces for “Judd & Adam for Vegas,” a fundraiser to be held at Largo at the Coronet on Friday, Nov 3. Tickets are $250 and proceeds will go to the National Compassion Fund, benefiting victims of the recent Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

If this dynamic duo (with the promise of special guests) doesn’t do it for you, feast your eyes on this masterpiece of a poster – caricature at its finest, with an homage to Las Vegas  icons Siegfried and Roy.

Sandler and Apatow have collaborated on flicks like “Funny People,” but their bromance predates their celebrity. Before getting their big break, the two were roommates in the Valley, splitting a $900/month unit (Sandler slept on the couch). During an interview with 60 Minutes, the two revealed that they’d frequent the restaurant chain Red Lobster (which has the best cheese biscuits, period) once a month. “That was a big night out,” Sandler added. “That was like, ‘We’re fancy now,’” said Apatow.

Find out more about “Judd & Adam for Vegas” here.

A Plea After Vegas Shooting: Let Us Bring Light Into Darkness

A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. Our spouse, child, sibling, parent or friend is missing, and we don’t know if they are dead or alive. Families in Las Vegas are living this nightmare right now, moving through hospitals, hoping to find their loved ones and praying that “missing” does not mean an unidentified body.

On Oct. 2, Rabba Ramie Smith and I drove to Las Vegas to be a source of support wherever we were needed after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. We donated food and water — sponsored by Yeshivat Maharat, the first school to ordain Jewish Orthodox female spiritual leaders, from which we both graduated — to a local church that delivered truckloads of supplies to victims, their families and local volunteers and first responders. We participated in a prayer vigil for people of all faiths. And we provided pastoral care for families waiting to hear from authorities about the fate of their loved ones, living this nightmare.

Local police, trauma and grief counselors, chaplains and lay volunteers are doing the holy and excruciating work of walking families through this horrific time, bringing a little bit of light into immense darkness. We are grateful for their service and can and should explore ways to also be of support with them.

But after reading the news, donating things such as food, water, blood and money, and even volunteering, how do we personally process the reality of loss and terror in the world? And especially right now, how do we as Jews celebrate Sukkot, the holiday of prescribed joy, when it seems that our year has started with tragedy?

I believe we can begin to find answers, resilience and even hope when we focus on the sukkah. The sukkah is a place we invite guests (ushpizin), a physical representation of opening our tents, like Abraham and Sarah, to connect with others. At this time of year, God tells us we cannot stay in our homes and avoid the world, we cannot be insular. We have to see our family as bigger than it usually is. Instead, we build a space that is naturally open, that welcomes others to enter, which means bringing strangers into our hearts. This act creates the simcha (joy) of this season because it unites us, making us love one another and see the goodness and Godliness in one another. Joy is an outgrowth of generosity, love and gratitude.

“We are hurt, but we will never be broken. In Vegas, we welcome people from around the world to our home every day. This makes it more horrifying that one of us — a local — did this. Some people think Vegas is a filthy place. But that’s not what it is. It’s my home and it’s hospitality. We will still continue to welcome people. We are strong. People here help each other. This is the Las Vegas that I love. This it the America I love.”

I heard these words from a woman who opened her restaurant in the middle of the night to survivors of the shooting who had nowhere else to go. She made her space — her home — everyone’s home.

This is the message of the sukkah. It is a message we desperately need at times when we would otherwise be isolated, lost and divided — a reality we see right now far too often. It is the response God gave us — the tool He equipped us with — for moments like this when we face unfathomable suffering and tragedy caused by human hatred.

This year, we must respond to the reality of terror, to the horrors of the shooting in Las Vegas, davka by celebrating Sukkot. The sukkah answers loss, terror and tragedy with love, warmth and welcoming arms. It is the antithesis to evil and, God-willing, it will end the nightmare.

This year, as we enter into the sukkah, may God give us the strength and courage to open our tents to those in need, the inspiration and drive to volunteer or donate to efforts supporting the victims and families of Las Vegas, and the joy to be people who make our home everyone’s home.


RABBANIT ALISSA THOMAS-NEWBORN is a member of the spiritual leadership team at B’nai David-Judea Congregation in Los Angeles. Read more about her visit to Las Vegas after the shooting at our partner site JTA.

Massive Shabbat Dinner On Pico Boulevard Canceled After Las Vegas Shooting

Las Vegas Metro Police officers after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1. Photo by Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

After the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, organizers of a Shabbat dinner gala here in Los Angeles canceled an event that they expected to draw a record-breaking crowd of 5,000.

“Shabbat 5,000,” scheduled for Oct. 27, would have shut down Pico Boulevard between Doheny Drive and Beverly Drive for an open-air Friday night dinner on the asphalt. But after a gunman on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel opened fire on a country music concert on Oct. 1, leaving at least 59 dead and more than 500 others injured, Shabbat 5,000 organizer Joshua Golcheh began to have second thoughts.  

“It was really just about thinking ahead, and being safe rather than sorry,” Golcheh, 27, said.

Golcheh said he spoke with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Oct. 2 while he and fellow organizer Dara Abaei were deciding whether to cancel the dinner.

Although the LAPD would not tell him to cancel the event, he said officers urged him to proceed with the utmost caution. Golcheh already had plans for barricades, aerial surveillance and a security staff of 60, including armed guards, in addition to an LAPD detail.

But ultimately, he said, he didn’t feel he could rule out an attack such as the Las Vegas shooting.

“There’s no place for putting anyone in harm’s way in my mission statement,” he said. “Therefore we decided to cancel the event.”

The Oct. 27 dinner would have coincided with The Shabbat Project, a global network of community events aimed at bringing together Jews around the world for one Shabbat.

A real estate developer who organizes Jewish unity events under the auspices of his community group, United Nation of Hashem, Golcheh and Abaei organized a Shabbat dinner on Pico Boulevard in October 2015 that attracted more than 3,000 people.

At the time, he told the Journal he wanted to follow up the dinner with a “bigger and better” Shabbat event.

But speaking with the Journal on Oct. 3, Golcheh said he no longer saw an open-air Shabbat dinner as an option.

“I do not foresee an event like this happening ever again,” he said. “I do have creative ideas of how we can have Jews in large audiences together for meals. However, I would never do it in an open-air setting.”

Nationwide, the Las Vegas shooting put the Jewish community on alert.

In an Oct. 2 statement, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that ADL’s Las Vegas chapter is coordinating with local law enforcement and monitoring the situation closely.

“While we are still learning details and do not know the impetus for the killings, one thing is clear: The threat of mass violence against innocent civilians in America has not abated,” he said. “This threat must be taken seriously.”

Golcheh said he would look for other ways to accomplish the goals of Shabbat 5,000.

“The hope of the event was to bring Jews together,” he said. “And even without having the event, I still hope that Jews throughout Los Angeles can unite and come together and show how strong we are as a nation.

Am Yisrael chai,” he added — long live Israel.

Las Vegas Jewish community rallies to help in aftermath of shooting

A makeshift memorial is seen next to the site of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Oct. 3. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Two Las Vegas synagogue held special evening prayers and a GoFundMe page raised over $50,000 for an injured Jewish woman as the city’s Jewish community rallied to help in the aftermath of the mass shooting on the Strip.

Chabad Rabbi Mendy Harlig, a chaplain with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, told the Chabad.org website that he spent time on Monday at a local hospital with the husband and mother-in-law of Natalie Grumet, a Jewish California resident who was injured in the shooting, The Times of Israel reported.

The GoFundMe page established to help Grumet return to California for further treatment had surpassed its $50,000 goal by Tuesday.

Samantha Arjune, daughter of the recently retired superintendent of the Ramaz Jewish day school in New York City, also was injured in the attack. On Monday, she underwent surgery on her leg; Arjune is not in a life-threatening situation.

The two women were among the more than 500 injured in the attack by a lone gunman shooting Sunday night at a concert from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. At least 58 were killed.

Harlig said he spent Sunday night at the scene of the attack offering support to police officers in dealing with the horrors they witnessed and the following day at hospitals providing support to victims and their families. He also worked with Israel’s consul general to help find Israelis visiting or living in Las Vegas who had been unaccounted for; they have all been found and none were injured.

Temple Sinai in Las Vegas on Monday evening held a special service to help the community come to grips with the attack. More than 100 members, young and old, attended the service, the Forward reported. Synagogue members said they planned to visit the injured and their families at local hospitals.

Midbar Kodesh Temple also held special evening prayers and a nighttime vigil.

Todd Polikoff, president and CEO of Jewish Nevada, the state’s Jewish community federation, told The Times of Israel that his staff had been bringing supplies to the blood service sites and sending food to the trauma center.

“Once the physical wounds heal, there are going to be a lot of people who need a lot of care dealing with this in a mental way,” he said. “There were 22,000 people there. We know there were a number of members of Jewish community who were there who got out unscathed physically. But know they’re going to need help.”

A post on the Jewish Nevada Facebook page from Monday said, “As the sun rises on Las Vegas today, we will be a changed city. What will not change is our compassion for one another, our ability to embrace millions of visitors every year, and our resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. This is the greatness that we know persists, in spite of the tragedy that we saw this evening.

“We must now turn to our attention those friends, family, and strangers who are in the most need. They are the ones who will need to see and experience all of the greatness that we embody in our community. Now, more than ever, we need to remind our fellow community members, the rest of the country, and the world that we are #VegasStrong.”

We are incredibly saddened by the violence and loss of life tonight on the Strip. We are also very thankful for the men…

Posted by Jewish Nevada on Monday, October 2, 2017

Israelis missing in wake of Las Vegas attack accounted for

Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1. Photo by Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

The Israelis considered as missing in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas have been located and none were injured.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel on Tuesday morning that Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, Avner Saban, and other embassy staff had reached out to Israelis living in Las Vegas and that all were accounted for following the Sunday.

Saban had traveled to Las Vegas to oversee efforts to reach the 18 Israelis unaccounted for and considered missing by the Foreign Ministry following the attack on a country music festival that killed at least 58 and injured more than 500.

Some 7,000 Israelis live in Las Vegas, Saban told the Israeli news website Walla.

Also Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement of solidarity with the United States.

“Las Vegas and the American people experienced a day of horror; the hearts of the people of Israel go out to the scores of innocent people murdered in cold blood,” he said. “Our hearts go out also to the hundreds who are wounded; we pray for their speedy recovery. The people of Israel stand with the people of America this time and anytime, but especially in this time. We will overcome, together.”

President Reuven Rivlin in a letter to President Donald Trump expressed condolences to the families of the dead and wished for the recovery of the injured.

“We stand with you as you mourn the terrible loss of life and injury following this senseless attack on people who had merely gathered together to listen to music,” Rivlin wrote.

Tel Aviv City Hall lit up its rectangular-shaped building in the shape of an American flag using red, white and blue lights.