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April 27, 2019 11:47 pm

Leading Jewish Organizations ‘Devastated,’ ‘Shocked’ by ‘Horrific’ Shooting at California Synagogue

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A candlelight vigil is held at Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church for victims of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/John Gastaldo.

Jewish organizations responded with grief and anger on Saturday night after a gunman killed one and wounded three in an attack on a synagogue in Poway, California.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, “We are devastated by the shooting at the Chabad synagogue and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

“It’s heartbreaking to see yet another tragedy on Shabbat, on the last day of Passover, exactly six months after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh,” he added, referring to the attack last year by a white supremacist who killed 11 worshippers.

“This shooting is a reminder of the enduring virulence of anti-Semitism,” Greenblatt said. “It must serve as a call to action for us as a society to deal once and for all with this hate. People of all faiths should not have to live in fear of going to their house of worship.”

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“From Charleston to Pittsburgh to Oak Creek and from Christchurch to Sri Lanka, and now Poway, we need to say ‘enough is enough.’ Our leaders need to stand united against hate and address it both on social media and in our communities,” he concluded.

The US Holocaust Museum also responded, saying, “We are shocked and alarmed at the second deadly attack on an American synagogue in six months, this time at Congregation Chabad in #Poway, on the last day of Passover. It must serve as another wake-up call that antisemitism is a growing and deadly menace.”

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center called the shooting “a horrific reminder that the flames of hatred still burn strong among some.”

“An attack, on any house of worship, from churches in Sri Lanka and France to synagogues in Jerusalem or Pittsburgh to mosques in Christchurch, are an assault on human dignity and our rights as people of faith to pray to G-d,” the Center added.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jewish community of Poway, California today as their worst nightmare unfolds. There is absolutely no justification or explanation for such violence, and it is inconceivable that yet again innocent people have been targeted simply for their religion and for choosing to attend a place of worship.”

“There is no room for such hate-filled violence in our society. People of all faiths must stand together and declare that we will never tolerate such hatred,” he added.

The American Jewish Committee stated, “We are shocked and saddened beyond words by reports of a shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California. We pray for the recovery of those injured as we anxiously await further news.”

Responses also came from overseas. Israel’s Holocaust museum Yad Vashem said it “is appalled and saddened at the shooting attack at the synagogue in Poway, California yesterday.”

“As we approach Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is dedicated to commemorating the memory of the six million men, women, and children murdered for being Jewish, we shall gravely consider the dangers of unchecked antisemitism,” the museum continued.

“We are also troubled by various forms of incitement featured in the media – print, digital and social. The world must act to combat such forms of hate speech by leaders and laypersons alike,” it added.

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said, “In recent months, we have witnessed a distressing resurgence in incidents of antisemitic attacks. On every continent, violence against Jews, merely because they are Jews, occurs.”

“The time has come for world leaders to speak out and condemn antisemitism in all its expressions, and immediately implement legal, moral and educational measures, both to protect the lives of their Jewish citizens, and also to fight against the outbreak of antisemitism that we have witnessed lately,” Shalev added. “In our post-Holocaust global society there is no room for antisemitism or any other kind of racism or xenophobia.”

Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement, “Unfortunately, this attack, coming exactly six months after the mass murder in Pittsburgh, demonstrates a very worrying trend in antisemitism in the US.”

“This, coupled with the horrifically antisemitic caricature in the New York Times over the weekend and the repeated attempts by local political leaders to diminish, belittle and even in some instances, justify, antisemitism, means that sadly the US is moving towards European levels of antisemitism,” Kantor warned.

“These attacks are changing the face of Jewish life in the US, just as we have faced in Europe for some time now,” he added.

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