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We Stand with Poway 

05/03/2019 02:29:41 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

The horror of last weeks events is still in the forefront of our minds. The tragic murder of Lori Gilbert Kaye z"l and the incident at the Chabad of Poway has sent shockwaves through the Jewish community. So many people and communities bear emotional trauma as we stand speechless about how such atrocities occur.

On one level is our concern with the state of humanity. That a person can walk into a crowd of innocents with the intention of inflicting carnage is incomprehensible to all decent people. Evil exists in the world and that is a difficult pill to swallow.

On another level, the attack causes us to become aware of (and fearful about) our own personal security. Is it dangerous to be a Jew? Is it dangerous to go to shul? To wear a kippah? To kindle a chunukiah in the window?

When considering a candidate for conversion to Judaism, the Bet Din (Jewish court) must confirm that s/he does not want to become Jewish because it is fashionable at the time or because of potential elevation in political status. Further, we remind the candidate that the Jewish people have been the subject of persecution for centuries and that just because things may be good for Jews in a particular place and time doesn't mean they will stay that way. We welcome the conversion candidate who understands this history and still wants to become a part of our people, thus sharing in our heritage and our future.

Yesterday, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, of Chabad of Poway, gave remarks at the White House. Citing the Lubavicher Rebbe, Rabbi Goldstein reminded us that the way to fight darkness is with light. We have the power to restore others faith by virtue of our actions. He stresses that if we help people (and especially children) to realize that there is good in the world - not just evil - and that they are valuable and important, then something good will come out of terrible events.

At HTAA, as always, we will have off duty police providing security on Shabbat. Our Security Committee has met and reevaluated our practices. We consulted with security experts we are in the process of applying for government funds for further security upgrades. If you are interested in hearing more or becoming involved with the committee, your participation is most welcome.

The safety of all our members is our top priority and recent events have made us all more aware of the importance of vigilance. Just as important is our ability to find meaning in senselessness. Let us show that we will not be deterred or let terror paralyze us. We will defend ourselves as much as possible but, most of all, we will fight darkness with light. We will continue to offer classes and educational and social opportunities for kids, adult, and seniors. We will continue to be support people and organizations who make a positive impact on the world. We will continue to galvanize our community and support relationships and caring among neighbors.

That is what I will be thinking when I light the Shabbat candles tonight and when I walk into shul tomorrow morning. I hope you plan to join me.

With blessings for healing and comfort for the Poway community, the Kaye family, and the entire Jewish People.

Wishing you a safe and peaceful Shabbat,

Rabbi Suson

Tue, July 14 2020 22 Tammuz 5780