This is the letter I wrote our congregation today.
Once again we are mourning and raging after an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue over the weekend. Lori Gilbert Kaye was a dedicated member of Chabad of Poway, and she was killed as she tried to protect Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was injured. Almog Peretz and his 8-year-old niece Noya Dahan were also wounded. We pray for their healing, and for consolation for the Kaye family.
I have been and remain determined not to give any anti-Semite the victory they want in any way. They want to push us out of this society. They want us to be too afraid to gather in our places, or to live our lives as Jews out in the open. They want us to feel that we do not belong.
But it is they who do not belong. It is they who are being overwhelmed. Our mitzvot – the deeds that we do, our whole reason for being as the Jewish people – our mitzvot are simply and inevitably more powerful than their violence.
Our place in America is part of what America is all about. Every time an anti-Semite shows his or her face, ten or a hundred or a thousand of our friends and allies come to our side. Within hours after news of the shooting, our synagogue received messages from Christian pastors in our Greater Nashua community, and from the Islamic Center, which offered us any help we might need and sent a note to their entire congregation.
Tomorrow, Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., we gather at Rivier University as we do each year, to commemorate the Shoah (Holocaust) and learn something new about what happened, how people responded at the time, and how people have lived with purpose and hope after the Shoah. That will be our opportunity to be together after the Poway shooting. I urge you to come – with your pain and with your resolve, to comfort each other. To declare our unity and resilience as a Jewish community and a wider community in the face of anti-Semitism and hate. To honor the Shoah’s victims and survivors, and to keep learning its lessons for us today. Please invite people you know outside the Jewish community to come tomorrow as well.
We have spoken with officials at Rivier to go over security for the event, and there will be an extra security detail. Our own Security Committee has been working continually and is in the process of preparing an update for the congregation.
I have reached out with calls and messages of support on our behalf to Chabad of Poway and the other two synagogues in that community, as well as to the Krinsky family, who lead our own Chabad in Manchester.
We will not stop being who we are, even during a week like this. We are the people of the House of Avraham and Sarah who spread Torah and goodness into the world.