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Poway Statement

Kriat HaRav – The Rabbi’s Call – Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer

Yesterday’s ’s horrific shooting at the Poway California Chabad synagogue, once again arouses within us emotions of sadness, anger, and even fear.
We mourn our losses. The loss of life, as well as the loss of a sense of security in our houses of worship.

We ask; what can we do, and what will it take, to remove the scourge of white supremacist terror.
It is no longer an aberration or simply the work of a disturbed individual.
While evil knows no boundaries of religion, race, or nationality, as evidenced by recent bombings of the innocent in Sri Lanka, we must acknowledge that these attacks targeting communities of faith are rooted in white nationalism.

At the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek
At the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston
At the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh
At the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center
At the Christchurch Mosque
At the Chabad synagogue in Poway yesterday.

The perpetrators were all motivated by a belief that murder would restore a culture of white supremacy by terrorizing the “other.”

To this evil, thoughts and prayers are an inadequate response.

After these events we must acknowledge that Pittsburgh while the first and worst, was not the last attack on the Jewish people in the United States. We must also open our eyes and see clearly that what is happening in France, Poland, Hungary, and other Western countries is a pattern that leads only to more death. We must put a halt to it. The survival of the remnant of the Jewish people in the diaspora depends on it. It is a time not only for vigilance but also for activism.

This week we will observe Yom Hashoah, the day of remembrance of the Holocaust.
A day marked by the intonation of the words; “Never Again.”
After too many genocides and hate crimes it should be apparent that we have failed to make those words a reality.
The Holocaust began, not with gas chambers, but with words followed by individual acts of terror.
It is not enough to merely remember. We must act.

As we have ended our Pesach, the, “Season of our Liberation”, we must recommit ourselves to stand against white supremacy and racism in all its forms. It is the only meaningful way I can think of to honor the memory of our martyrs. Including Lori Kaye, who died in an attempt to defend her rabbi yesterday in San Diego.

We must change a social media culture and a “Bill of Rights” culture that confuses free speech with hate speech and the right to defense with the right to obtain a gun.
We must change a society where weapons of mass destruction can to easily fall into the hands of a nineteen year old young man with a heart filled with hate.
Hate Speech is Not Free Speech.
There is nothing free about it. There is nothing free in speech that marginalizes, or denigrates, people who are different. There is nothing free in speech that fosters and motivates murder.

We do not yet know what will be the shape of a national, and even an international, movement that pushes hate speech and bigotry back into the shadows, where it belongs. We only know that it must happen.
I hope that over the coming months and years, as much as any other social issue surrounding income inequality, or medical care, or market reform, we insist that the most important discussion is how to take concrete steps to eliminate hate crime and hate speech. We must now unite and bring this discussion to the forefront of the national dialogue, because without it, all others are meaningless.

Dedicated to the victims of the Poway Chabad Synagogue Shooting;
Lori Kaye (z”l), Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Almog Peretz, Noya Dahan

And the victims of the Pittsburg Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting;
Joyce Fienberg (z”l), Richard Gottfried (z”l), Rose Mallinger (z”l), Jerry Rabinowitz (z”l), Cecil Rosenthal (z”l), David Rosenthal (z”l), Bernice Simon (z”l), Sylvan Simon (z”l), Daniel Stein(z”l), Melvin Wax(z”l), Irving Younger (z”l), Andrea Wender , Daniel Leger, Officer Timothy Matson , Officer Michael Smidga

Hamakom Yinacham Etchem B’toch Sha’ar Aveilei Tsiyon V’Yerushalayim
May you be comforted in the midst of the mourners in the gate of Zion and Jerusalem

Bethesda Jewish Congregation

Bethesda Jewish Congregation