Six months ago, the world was devastated by the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, when 11 Jewish souls were ripped from the arms of a tight knit and loving Jewish community. Since then, incidents against other worshipers from churches in Sri Lanka to mosques in New Zealand paint an unbearable picture of a world on fire. Until this week, we might have said that San Diego is the last place where such hatred exists, and yet today we know that none of us are immune or sheltered from violent acts of extremists.
And just 6 days ago, our community was forever changed after the senseless and hate-filled murder and attack at the Chabad of Poway. Lori Kaye’s (z”L) precious life was extinguished while the injured and affected congregants and survivors from Chabad of Poway are left to pick up the pieces.
Spending time with some of the victims and survivors this week has been heartbreaking, yet inspiring. I am beyond blessed to have had the chance to spend just a few moments speaking with Rabbi Goldstein, who told me that “now is a time for us all to come together”. The Chabad community’s resilience and compassion, commitment, and fortitude, is a testament to why we have survived—and thrived—as a people.
We are fortunate in this community to have an exceptional Anti-Defamation League office. The San Diego ADL has deep and long-standing relationships with law enforcement and provides security training, education, and valuable expertise to support all our Jewish institutions. This is truly a special community resource and we are grateful to the ADL for their leadership, especially during this past tumultuous week. **Note that ADL invites any organizations that have questions related to security to reach out to Matt Wagner, Associate Director, Law Enforcement Initiatives & Community Security, at MWagner@adl.org.
We are also fortunate to have in our community tremendous resources to aid with trauma recovery. The professionals at Jewish Family Service (JFS) of San Diego are available 24/7, and our own Community Chaplaincy program, through Rabbi Ralph Dalin, is here to offer support.
Yesterday, on a call with Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, he said that these tragic events have changed his life forever. It seems we have all been changed forever. Like you, I am angry and I am sad, and at times I feel powerless. But we must not allow our actions to be controlled by those feelings. Recovery also requires us to redirect those feelings into moving forward. Life, as planned, must continue.
That’s why I am proud that we will move forward with our annual Yom Hazikaron event this Tuesday, May 7th and our Celebrate IsraelFest on Sunday, June 2nd. No one will deter us from celebrating the 71st birthday of our Jewish State. We are a people of resilience. When we work together as there is nothing we can’t achieve and our future becomes brighter.
Therefore, this Shabbat, in honor of Lori Kaye (z”l), and in honor of our tradition as a Jewish people, we hope many will go to shul, light candles and celebrate Shabbat together with love and strength and family.