The tragedy at Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday, June 17 affected our entire Charleston community. A House of Worship must be a place of reverence, sanctity, and open to all in the community. This tragic incident has shaken the foundation of what it means to be secure. An attack on one House of Worship is an attack on us all.
This tragedy left 9 people dead and a whole community affected, making it clear that as Jews we must stand united in solidarity with the community at large and take a stand on hate crimes.
I am proud to say that the Charleston Jewish community united in solidarity. Every community organization issued statements of support; Rabbis spoke from the pulpit; Rabbi Stephanie Alexander played an active role in the Charleston-wide community vigil; and community members were proudly among the thousands of people amassed on the Ravenel Bridge in an awe-inspiring display of solidarity for the victims.
Charleston Jewish Federation set up a fund that will go directly to help the families of the victims. Donations have come in from far and wide, including South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, California, Michigan and Ohio (as of press time).
The Talmud in Berachot 5a teaches that when a tragedy occurs, we should look within ourselves and take an accounting of our deeds. This is especially true in terms of the mitzvot that we perform. The shooter is a barbarian; we are not. Fight the evil with humanity. Let us live more meaningful, more passionate and more worthwhile lives in memory and in honor of Cynthia Hurd, 54, Rev Clementa Pinckney, 41, Rev Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, Tywanza Sanders, 26, Ethel Lance, 70, Rev Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, Susie Jackson, 87, Rev Daniel Simmons Sr, 74, and Myra Thompson, 59.
Our communal reflection on this tragedy will make us an even greater nation. Please consider making a donation to Charleston Jewish Federation’s Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, www.jfeds.org/prayforcharleston. 100% of your contribution will go directly to the fund.
Charleston Jewish Federation CEO