February 17th, 2023
Many of you have now heard about the two shootings on Wednesday and Thursday targeting Jews walking out of morning minyan in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. The two victims are recovering, and we pray for their refuah shleimah, their full recovery, and for the restoration of peace in our streets. As of today, the shootings seem to be connected. The shooter, a man with known animus toward the Jewish community, has been arrested, and the incidents are being treated as hate crimes.
A few thoughts for our community:
These incidents — combined with the Nazi flag at LACMA, a block from Shalhevet, earlier in the week — have rattled us. They remind us of the continued rise of violent antisemitism, in a society of festering hatred and easy access to guns in which anti-Black racism, anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-trans legislation and violence, and so many more expressions of hatred are spiking.
What’s next…There will be a communal town hall gathering next week in the neighborhood (probably at Shalhevet) with the mayor and city council members. We’ll share info about it as we learn more. Our local Jewish community has a strong security initiative, and has been communicating with shuls and schools on efforts to keep us and our communities safe and informed of any ongoing threats (there are none right now).
Reminding ourselves that feeling safe is relative. Law enforcement has promised to increase patrols at Jewish sites this weekend. While increased security will help many in our community feel safer, it will make some of our community members feel less safe. We will remind our security team that all of our people do not share the same reaction to increased police and security presence, and that even as we increase vigilance, we will also take care to ensure all are treated with compassion and respect.
Consider leaning into Jewish participation. Some Jews — who are feeling worried and more vulnerable than they did previously — may plan to avoid synagogue for a few Shabbatot. We must always protect ourselves and one another against those who wish us harm, and also recognize that the greatest response to hatred and violence are Jewish vitality and joy. Whether you decide to stay home from shul this week or lean even more strongly into public affirmations of your Jewish identity, let this also motivate us to increase our commitment to preventing gun violence and building a safe, just, and loving society for everyone.
Take care of each other. Unfortunately I will be out of town this Shabbat on a planned trip, but for those who are here, please treat each other with extra measures of care. And if any of you want to connect privately with one of the rabbis for a check in, please do not hesitate to reach out. (I’m in the office this morning.)
Here’s an article about the arrest with the most updated information: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-02-16/extra-security-added-for-synagogues-after-two-jewish-men-shot-in-pico-robertson-in-two-days