JCRC Statement on the Deadly Antisemitic Shooting at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Southern California

April 29, 2019

The Greater Indianapolis Jewish community remains shocked that last Saturday another deadly attack on Jews took place in an American synagogue, this time at the Chabad of Poway in Southern California.  The terrorist took the life of Lori Gilbert Kaye, whose life and memory will surely be for a blessing.  As he entered the sanctuary, the gunman shot the rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, whose grandparents fled pogroms in Poland to live freely as Jews in America.  As congregant Almog Peretz, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, ran to help get children to safety, he took a bullet in his leg; his eight-year-old niece, Noya Dahan, took shrapnel to hers. 

The JCRC expresses our community’s deep pain and growing anger as we, once again, issue a statement about the alarming rise in anti-Jewish bigotry and acts in our communities, country, and around the world.

Antisemitism is real and dangerous; it begins with speech, leads to violence, and results in deaths.  The rhetoric of fear and conspiracy directly fuel acts of hatred and violence, which threaten not only lives, but also the American values of pluralism, inclusivity, and freedom, all of which are vital for our democracy to thrive.

Rabbi Goldstein shared this sentiment, and more, with eloquence, gratitude, and defiance:

“…That finger I would use to point out God’s omnipresence was taken from me. I pray that my missing finger serves as a constant reminder to me. A reminder that every single human being is created in the image of God; a reminder that I am part of a people that has survived the worst destruction and will always endure; a reminder that my ancestors gave their lives so that I can live in freedom in America; and a reminder, most of all, to never, ever, not ever be afraid to be Jewish. …In his vile manifesto, the terrorist who shot up my synagogue called my people, the Jewish people, a “squalid and parasitic race.” No. We are a people divinely commanded to bring God’s light into the world. So it is with this country. America is unique in world history. Never before was a country founded on the ideals that all people are created in God’s image and that all people deserve freedom and liberty. We fought a war to make that promise real. And I believe we can make it real again.”

Here in Indiana, across America, and indeed around the world, people should feel safe gathering and praying in their house of worship, whether a synagogue, church, mosque, or temple.  Sadly, the congregants of Chabad of Poway now share in having experienced the pain and grief endured by communities in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, St. Landry Parish, Pittsburgh, Charleston, and Oak Creek.

The JCRC will continue in its mission of building bridges of understanding with our interfaith partners, elected officials, and surrounding community, as we work together to stop the normalization of hate speech, call out white nationalism and vile conspiracy theories, and unequivocally denounce acts of violence.  

The Greater Indianapolis Jewish community is grateful for our partnership with local law enforcement, who once again responded to the security needs of Jewish institutions in central Indiana by communicating swiftly with us and increasing their patrols of Jewish institutions to help keep us safe.

We send our deepest condolences to members of the Chabad of Poway synagogue.  May healing of body and mind come quickly to all those injured and affected.  May the memory of Lori Gilbert Kaye be for a blessing.  And may strength and resolve come to the Greater San Diego Jewish community, and indeed Jews world-wide.

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