The day after the deadly shooting at a Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, Beth El Congregation of Baltimore’s Facebook page displayed a simple message in bright, bold colors: “together against hate.”
That sentiment was expressed throughout Baltimore’s Jewish community and beyond in recognition of the victims of the April 27 Shabbat-service shooting that left one person dead and three injured. Lori Gilbert-Kaye has been identified as the congregant who died in the shooting. Two adult men, including the synagogue’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, and an 8-year-old girl were injured.
Gilbert-Kaye, 60, of San Diego, is credited with jumping in front of the synagogue’s rabbi to shield him from the gunman’s bullets. She is survived by her husband and 22-year-old daughter.
The injured three were released from area hospitals on Sunday. The injured girl, Noya Dahan, and her family had moved to California from Israel to escape frequent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, including some which damaged their home. She was injured in the attack by shrapnel on her face and legs. Her uncle, Almog Peretz, 31, was shot in the leg during the attack while gathering up children and ushering them to safety, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The rabbi was shot in both of his index fingers and required surgery. He reportedly continued speaking even after being shot.
Meanwhile, in Baltimore, city police released a statement that “In light of the shooting that occurred in San Diego, all Baltimore City Patrol officers have been ordered to pay special attention to all religious institutions and places of worship in their district.”
Baltimore’s Jewish community was swift to react to the San Diego shooting, as were national Jewish organizations.
The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore released a statement Saturday evening condemning the Shabbat tragedy.
“Our hearts are broken to learn of today’s shooting in the midst of Shabbat services at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego. This attack on a Jewish community during prayer on the final day of the Passover holiday – apparently motivated by anti-Semitism, and on the six-month anniversary of the shootings in Pittsburgh – is the latest example of a horrifying act of violence on a place of worship,” the statement said.
“The Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore thank our partners in federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as our federal, state and local elected officials, for joining us in their collective commitment to ensuring the safety of our communities. Their response to today’s shooting was immediate and appreciated.
“Hate has no place in our society – here, in San Diego, in Sri Lanka, in New Zealand, in South Carolina, in Pittsburgh, or anywhere in the world. We join in mourning and praying for the victims, and we are more committed than ever to working to ensure that people of all faiths are safe in their synagogues, churches, mosques, and other places of worship.
“We pledge to continue to combat anti-Semitism as well as other acts and words of hate.”
Chabad Owings Mills said in a statement that it “stands in solidarity with our fellow Chabad Synagogue in Poway, as they mourn one dead and three wounded in a horrific, anti-Semitic shooting during services on the last day of Passover. Even after being shot and wounded by the ruthless hater, Rabbi Goldstein stood before his congregation and said, ‘We are strong. We are united. They can not break us.’ Let’s take his words to heart as we join in prayer for his recovery, the young child, and adult recovering, and for the soul of Lori Gilbert-Kaye — a”h.”
Beth Tfiloh Congregation and Community Dahan School said on its Facebook page that it was “saddened by the news of yet another hate-filled shooting, targeting our fellow Jews while davening at the Chabad of Poway near San Diego earlier today. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in San Diego and around the world.”
Rabbi Craig Axler, spiritual leader of Temple Isaiah in Fulton spent the Sunday morning after the shooting leading Torah study and Shabbat/Yizkor services at the temple. “I feel so fortunate to spend my energies dedicated to the synagogue as a place of peace, friendship and welcoming,” he said in a Facebook post. “To end this Shabbat and Passover with news of yet another act of violence and hatred perpetrated in a sacred space (and this time, again, in a synagogue) leaves me both heartbroken and angry. But I am no less committed to the synagogue as a place of love and welcome. I am thinking particularly tonight of my cherished friends in our local Lubavitch community YC N Chaya Sufrin (whose energies should only be directed towards the joy of welcoming their new baby girl) Hillel and Chanie Baron. Sending prayers for strength to the Poway Chabad community.”
County Executive Johnny Olszewski was at a Har Sinai Brotherhood-Sisterhood event on April 28 “about how we are moving our county forward together,” he said in a Facebook post. “But it was also a chance remind our Jewish brothers and sisters that our community will always stand with them against hate and anti-Semitism.”
Gov. Larry Hogan said in an April 27 statement that he offered his “full support to the communities of Poway, San Diego, and the state of California as they begin the healing process and work to bring the perpetrators of this anti-Semitic act of evil to justice.”
The alleged shooter, John Earnest, 19, was charged on Sunday afternoon with one count of murder in the first degree and three counts of attempted murder in the first degree, according to records posted on the website of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Earnest is not eligible for bail, according to the Sheriff’s Department. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon. Local officials have accused Earnest of a hate crime.
In March, Rabbi Goldstein wrote a Facebook post lamenting the deadly shooting at a mosque in New Zealand.
“Attacking innocent people is abhorrent,” he wrote. “It is abhorrent when it is a shul in Pittsburgh and it is abhorrent when it is in a Mosque in New Zealand!”
Chabad-Lubavitch Headquarters in New York released a statement calling the Chabad synagogue shooting “appalling and heartbreaking.”
“We extend heartfelt sympathy to the family of Lori Gilbert-Kaye upon their terrible loss. We mourn with you in your time of grief. Our prayers for a speedy recovery to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein and the others who were viciously injured by the shooter. We are grateful for the heroic efforts by individual(s) in the synagogue blocking the shooter from inflicting further injury and preventing greater loss of life. We are thankful to the California Highway Patrol in San Diego for their quick response in apprehending the shooter.
“Anti-Jewish violence in the United States has now risen to a level that cannot be ignored or dismissed. We appeal to members of government on the local, state and federal level, media agencies, school teachers, college professors and university leaders to lead responsibly and take the initiative to uproot the destructive scourge that threatens the core values of this country.”
Chabad.org said that Goldstein, originally from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, “is also a Jewish chaplain with the San Diego sheriff’s department. Goldstein has been described as ‘talkative, warm and kind’ by members of the Southern California community.”
The shooting on the last day of Passover was six months to the day after the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, when an alleged white supremacist murdered 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue complex.
The Anti-Defamation League said it is on the ground in San Diego “working with local authorities to set up a community support center for those directly affected by the shooting.”
President Donald Trump spoke about the shooting at the rally Saturday night in Green Bay.
“Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community,” he said. “We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism, which must be defeated.”
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum released a statement expressing shock and alarm at the second such attack on a synagogue in the U.S. in the past six months.
“Now our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones,” museum director Sara J. Bloomfield said. “But moving forward this must serve as yet another wake-up call that anti-Semitism is a growing and deadly menace. The Holocaust is a reminder of the dangers of unchecked antisemitism and the way hate can infect a society. All Americans must unequivocally condemn it and confront it in wherever it appears.”
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Rabbinical Council of America released a statement on April 28 on the Poway attack, expressing “deepest sympathy to the loved ones of Lori Gilbert Kaye, who was murdered in the horrific attack that took place during Shabbat and Passover prayer services.”
“We pray for the speedy recovery of the rabbi (and ask for prayers for Rav Yisroel ben Chana Priva) and other congregants injured in the shooting. This senseless act of anti-Semitic violence was not only a heinous attack on the Jewish community, but an attack on the very foundation of civil society and our collective democratic values,” said Allen Fagin, the Orthodox Union’s executive vice president.
The statement said that the OU is “advocating in Congress for additional federal security grants to nonprofit institutions.”
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism expressed sadness and outrage “at yet another senseless shooting of worshipers at prayer.”
“Deeply angered that modern-day anti-Semitism has led to the increasing number of attacks on synagogues and Jewish institutions in the United States, we must stand together and condemn all hatred and bigotry. We need to be among the voices that oppose the rising tide of white nationalism and racism, as well as anti-semitism. We must be clear that language matters and indifference to it breeds violence.”
Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association sent its “deepest condolences and wishes of refu’ah shlaymah — full and complete healing — to all who were affected by the shooting at Chabad of Poway, California.”
“This has been an escalating year of murderous hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in countries across the globe. In each incident, the shooters are fueled by and make references to the previous ones. We are seeing how social media — and, in the US, easy access to semi-automatic weapons — is contributing to the shattering of a centuries-old consensus that all individuals could believe whatever they wanted as long as no harm was done to others. Much harm is being done — to individuals who are killed or injured while at prayer in their houses of sanctuary, to their families who are devastated, to a sense of safety and security that some of us have felt.”
Following the Poway shooting, Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said in a statement that: “We remind ourselves of the outpouring of support from people of all faiths and those of no faith following the deadly attacks against Christians at prayer in Sri Lanka, against Muslims in New Zealand, and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. These helpful, hopeful responses teach that love is stronger than hate Judaism must always be welcoming of all as we continue to work ceaselessly to ensure the safety and protection of all people. As the terrible facts of this deadly attack come to light we join all people of conscience in prayers for the victims and their loved ones, and vow to provide strength, solidarity and support for the entire community.”
The Central Conference of American Rabbis said its membership was “heartbroken to learn of the shootings at Chabad of Poway this Shabbat. We send prayers of condolence and healing for the community. Moreover we remain as resolved as ever to work with all peace-loving people toward an end to hate and an end to gun violence, and for the ability to pray in all our places of worship without fear.”
This story is developing.