Our hearts are heavy with the news of yet another white supremacist shooting in a place of worship – this time at Chabad of Poway, near San Diego, on Shabbat morning, the 8th day of Pesach, where many people had come for Yizkor, memorial prayers that are recited four times a year. Coming six months after the attack on Tree of Life and Dor Chadash in Pittsburgh, less than two months after the attacks on Masjid al Noor and Linwood Islamic Centre in New Zealand, and less than a week after the Easter bombings of churches in Sri Lanka, yesterday’s shooting strikes close to home for us, both geographically, and because a synagogue was targeted.
We mourn the killing of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and pray for the healing of the injured, including an 8 year old child and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. We grieve the shattering of a community’s sense of safety. And we feel the reverberations of these attacks gnawing at the edges of our own sense of safety.
We are committed to keeping our hearts and our doors open, to living from a place of generosity and not from a place of fear, and to building our relationships and solidarity across vulnerable and targeted communities.
And we’re also committed to empowering our community with plans and tools to help us stay safe. Kehilla is part of a national group of progressive synagogues that are sharing community safety plans and practices that include community-based alternatives to militarizing our spaces. We began this work after the Pittsburgh shooting, and we’re looking for more volunteers to help lead and implement it. If you have experience with institutional safety and emergency planning and would like to be part of Kehilla’s community safety team, please email Michael Saxe-Taller.
Here are some offerings for the coming days:
- Bend the Arc is hosting a national call tonight, Monday, April 29 at 5:30 pm PT. You may want to gather some friends to listen together.
- We invite everyone to come together in community at our Chai Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday, May 3, 6:30 veggie potluck, 7:30 davening. There will be space for grief, anger, and whatever else is present.
- Let My People Sing! has shared We Will Outlive Them: Songs of Jewish Resilience for These Times.
- Notes of love and condolence can be sent to Chabad of Poway (16934 Chabad Way, Poway, CA 92064), Chabad of Oakland (3014 Lakeshore Avenue, 94610), and Chabad of Berkeley (2942 Claremont Blvd., 94705). Donations to Chabad of Poway can be made here.
- The Poway shooter also claims responsibility for setting a nearby Mosque on fire in Escondido after the New Zealand attacks. Donations to the Islamic Center of Escondido can be made here.
In our counting of the Omer, this week has the quality of gevurah, of holy strength. We’re drawing on that strength to remember who we are. We’ll keep on saying it, we’ll keep on living it as best we can: Olam chesed yibaneh – we’re building a world of compassion, a world where joy can thrive, where we and all people can be out and proud and fiercely loving. Thank you for building this beloved and powerful community together.
Rabbi Dev Noily Hazzan Shulamit Wise Fairman