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June 18, 2015 1:02 pm

Major Jewish Groups ‘Horrified’ by Charleston Church Shooting, Call for Solidarity

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

Victims of the deadly attack at a Charleston church embrace following the violence. Photo: Courtesy Jewish Federation of Charleston, SC.

Victims of the deadly attack at a Charleston church embrace following the violence. Photo: Courtesy Jewish Federation of Charleston, SC.

Jewish groups condemned on Thursday the apparent hate crime at a historic black church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night, in which nine people were shot dead by a lone gunman, and called for solidarity.

“The entire Charleston Jewish community is grieving for the victims and their families of the Emanuel AME Church tragedy last night,” said the Jewish Federation of Charleston in a statement, calling on locals to join for a vigil for the victims on Thursday.

“Even when we don’t have the answers most of us are helped by drawing together with community members to affirm the Jewish values of heart, restraint, compassion and justice. There is no way sense can be made of such a tragedy so it is important for us to show our support, offer comfort and pray for peace,” the statement read.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, meanwhile, said it was “horrified by the apparent hate crime at a historic Black Church where nine people attending a Bible class at the Emanuel AME Church  were gunned down, reportedly by a young white gunman.”

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Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, the center’s Associate Dean and Director of Interfaith Affairs respectively, expressed their condolences and called for “solidarity” with the families of those victims who were killed on Tuesday night.

“We wish to express our solidarity with and deep sorrow for  the families who lost loved ones, the members of the historic Black Church and the people of Charlestown. We trust that law enforcement will do everything in its power to apprehend the murderer. All Americans are again confronted with the specter of a House of Worship violated and  our religious freedoms violently debased,” they said.

The Anti-Defamation League expressed “horror and profound sorrow” over the murder of nine parishioners, including the reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, who was also a state senator.

“Even though this suspect has not yet been apprehended, from what we know about this unspeakable crime it is hard to imagine that there could have been any motive other than hate.  We should all be looking in the mirror this morning and asking ourselves how such a tragedy could happen in America in 2015, and what we can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman and ADL Southeast Regional Director Mark Moskowitz, in a joint statement.

“Our prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the members of their congregation and community.  We hope they can find some measure of strength and comfort in the support of the countless people around the U.S. and the world whose thoughts are with them today,” they said.

As police continued the manhunt for primary suspect Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of the Columbia area on Wednesday, B’nai B’rith International also condemned Wednesday’s hateful attack.

“Attacking people as they pray is the height of depravity,” said the Jewish service organization. “Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims’ families and those injured in the attack.”


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