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CT religious leaders condemn anti-Semitism after California synagogue attack

April 28, 2019

Local religious and community leaders condemned another attack on the Jewish community after a shooting at a California synagogue that killed one and injured three others.

The shooting at Chabad of Poway, a synagogue in San Diego, Calif., is being investigated as a hate crime and occurred on the last day of a major Jewish holiday.

“This is an attack on all of us,” Rabbi Joseph I. Eisenbach, who leads Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest CT in Litchfield, said in an email.

Saturday’s shooting came six months after 11 people were killed in a massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. That attack was the deadliest on the Jewish community in the United States.

Local synagogues heightened security in the wake of the October shooting. Eisenbach said this work is continuing at Chabad of Northwest CT.

The attack also comes about a week after more than 250 people were killed on Easter Sunday in bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

In the wake of these recent assaults, local leaders need to stand against hatred, the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut said.

“This shooting is a reminder of the enduring virulence of anti-Semitism,” the organization said in a statement. “It must serve as a call to action for us as a society to deal once and for all with this hate. People of all faiths should not have to live in fear of going to their house of worship.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven is holding an event at 1 p.m. May 5 to honor victims of the Holocaust and the shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway.

“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and all peace-loving people to condemn this horrific anti-Semitic attack,” the organization said on Facebook. “Places of worship should never be targets.”

The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut also condemned the latest attack.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the slain, and we pray for those who were injured,” the coalition said in a statement. “We stand firmly in solidarity with the Jewish community in Poway and throughout our nation.”

Police are investigating a claim the shooter made in an online manifesto that he set fire last month to a mosque in Escondido, Calif.

That claim demonstrated “how racist ideology threatens diverse communities,” the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut said.

The Muslim community has also been under attack locally and around the country recently.

On Friday, a man deliberately drove into pedestrians in California because he thought some of them were Muslim. The FBI is also investigating after a man threatened last month to burn Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford, according to WNPR.

“The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut calls on all people to stand together to oppose hatred and violence against any group of people and urges the redoubling of efforts to promote knowledge, understanding, and respect for all,” the organization said.

Eisenbach encouraged the community to light Shabbat candles on Friday in honor of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in the shooting. The synagogue is offering free Shabbat Candle Lighting kits to all. Those interested should contact office@chabadNW.org with their name and address for a free kit to be mailed.

“Let’s cover the entire Northwest CT and let us bring light and love into the world to combat this senseless darkness and evil,” Eisenbach said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.