Saturday, February 27th | 15 Adar 5781

September 18, 2018 6:39 am

Another Mass Shooting Strikes the Los Angeles Jewish Community

avatar by Jack Saltzberg


The Los Angeles skyline. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Twenty years ago, when I worked at the American Technion Society (ATS) in Los Angeles, my administrative assistant was a vivacious African-American woman named Cynthia Morse. Cynthia helped me tremendously in ways that not only benefited the Technion, but also the State of Israel.

I have many memories of working with Cynthia. One is when she broke into a meeting to tell me that my ex-wife was on the phone after there had been a shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, where my two children attended summer camp. Miraculously, the Nazi shooter turned in the opposite direction from where my children were, and they were ultimately spared.

Another memory of Cynthia that stands out is when she would bring her precocious grandson to the office. The ATS was more than a nine to five job — we were family, so sometimes we brought our children for the day. One of the brightest spots was when her adorable grandson, Elijah, came to the office. At first as an infant and later as a toddler bouncing around the office, he was as beautiful and happy as they come. Always smiling and full of energy, everyone would ogle at Elijah’s gorgeous eyes and curls. I still remember my little girl, Tal, only seven at the time, playing mother to Elijah and leading him by the hand around the office.

I left the ATS, but Cynthia stayed, continuing to be a staple of the Los Angeles Jewish community for more than 20 years.

It is this background that made a phone call that I recently received so painfully horrific. I learned that Elijah Clayton was one of the two people senselessly murdered by a Jewish shooter at the Madden 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. As it turns out, Elijah had grown up to become one of the world’s leading video gamers.

Immediately following the murders, a colleague worried that in today’s environment, there could be some fallout caused by a Jew murdering an African-American man. If there is, I know that it won’t be coming from Cynthia. She spent more than two decades interacting with and helping the Los Angeles Jewish community, and is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people.

Cynthia celebrated holidays and simchas with us, and she mourned together with our losses, especially those tragedies in Israel. Now it is time for the Jewish community to mourn and pray together with Cynthia and her family for the senseless results of another shooting, and for the loss of her beautiful grandson, Elijah.

Jack Saltzberg is the founder and president of The Israel Group.

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