A Message About Poway

My Dear Congregants,

Sadly, I once again write following a tragic and needless atrocity, this time against Jews celebrating the final day of Passover in their synagogue. Clearly, we Jews are not alone in being gunned down in our places of worship. The shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway comes on the heels of the killing of Christians at prayer in Sri Lanka and Muslims at prayer in New Zealand and Sabbath worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In recent memory Jews have been murdered at a supermarket in Paris, bombed in a bus in Bulgaria, and attacked at a Holocaust Museum in Brussels. We have heard neo-Nazis and white nationalists brazenly chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia and anti-Semitic taunts of Yellow Vest protesters in France.

Today we mourn the loss of Laurie Gilbert Kaye, killed as she was preparing to say Yahrzeit for her mother.  We pray for the swift and complete recovery of 8 year old Noya Dahan and 34 year old Almog Peretz, who was seriously wounded while he led children to safety to another room.

Of course, all hatred is deplorable, and all violence against innocents needs to be condemned. We must fight against bigotry wherever it may appear. But anti-Semitism’s long virulent history, its world-wide reach, and its multiple ideological roots make it unique among the many hatreds of the world. Although we may know and understand this intellectually, when it strikes close to home it puts fear in our hearts.

For one member of our Congregation this attack literally strikes closer to home than for others. Our congregant Jen Weiner grew up in Poway. Her parents were among the founders of the Reform Synagogue in that community. Jennifer’s sister lives across the street from the Chabad synagogue. Jen’s ten year old nephew was unable to sleep the night following the attack.

Jennifer writes, “Poway is on the outskirts of the large Jewish community in San Diego, much like our community here in Naperville.  It’s a diverse community, where folks wear cowboy hats and ride around in golf carts.  My parents founded Temple Adat Shalom in the 1970s.  I celebrated my bat mitzvah and confirmation there.  Chabad came a little while after that, but it was an amazing presence in our area to have a reform synagogue alongside an orthodox community.  The Jewish community of San Diego’s north county inland was thriving.  Much like Naperville, it wasn’t always easy to be the minority.  I knew the handful of Jewish kids at Poway High.  But as kids, we didn’t know we were small.  I was active in BBYO, the Jewish youth group.  Dad was president of the synagogue.  Mom spent her time at sisterhood events.  Being Jewish was an everyday thing, because my parents made it so……..

“Our children,” Jen concludes, “shouldn’t have to live in a world where they are afraid to go to sleep at night.  As parents, we must teach our kids not to hide… to stand up to evil.  We must be proud and hold on to each other, our community.  To embrace the support.  We must reconnect with our Jewish identity.  We must support Jewish causes.  It’s what our ancestors did.  Now it’s our turn.”

I urge every single member of our CBS community to come to our synagogue sometime this weekend as an act of solidarity and as a demonstration that we will not be intimidated, nor will we allow our freedom to worship to be taken from us.           
L’Shalom,  Rabbi Marc D. Rudolph