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‘It’s up to us to increase light’: Spokane rabbi urges kindness following California shooting

Candles glow in front of a photo of Lori Kaye during a memorial service for her in Poway, California, on Monday, April 29, 2019. Kaye was was killed Saturday when a gunman opened fire inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue. (Gregory Bull / AP)
Candles glow in front of a photo of Lori Kaye during a memorial service for her in Poway, California, on Monday, April 29, 2019. Kaye was was killed Saturday when a gunman opened fire inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue. (Gregory Bull / AP)

In the aftermath of the shooting at a Southern California synagogue on Saturday, a Spokane rabbi cautioned against growing accustomed to acts of violence and hate.

“We’ve gotten used to shootings,” said Rabbi Yisroel Hahn with Chabad of Spokane. “We’ve gotten used to violence. We became numb. … Not that it’s not understandable, it’s human nature. We’re all guilty because we’ve gotten used to it, but it is very troubling.”

One woman died in the shooting and three were injured, including the California congregation’s rabbi.

Hahn said the only response and way forward is through acts of goodness and kindness, and focusing on doing those things right now.

“Every time as a society we take a step back, we should always use it as an opportunity to leap forward even more,” Hahn said. “It’s up to us to increase in light. Light is a lot more powerful than darkness.”

Rabbi Tamar Malino, of Temple Beth Shalom and Congregation Emanu-El, said she felt heartbroken and frightened. Malino said congregants grieved at a remembrance of the Holocaust on Sunday.

“For a lot of people, that was an opportunity to mourn also what had happened in Poway and what happened in Pittsburgh and put it all together,” Malino said. “An opportunity to grieve and an opportunity to really take to heart the message that obviously we need to fight anti-Semitism wherever it is.”

Miri Cypers, regional director of the Anti Defamation League Pacific Northwest, said it is important for people to report incidents of hate.

“I think it’s crucial that they connect with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League to report these kinds of incidents so we have a strong sense of what’s going on in our communities in Spokane and across the region,” Cypers said.

Hahn said Chabad of Spokane will be hosting “an evening of inspiration and prayer” on Friday at 7 p.m. at 4116 E 37th Ave. in honor of the victims of the shooting, including Lori Kaye, who was killed in the attack. Hahn invites the entire Spokane community to attend.

“There is a lot of goodness in this world,” Hahn said. “We’re not living in a dark evil world, there’s just evil that needs to be confronted. There’s an incredible amount of good that happens, even in this story.”

Hahn deeply admires the bravery of Rabbi Yishoel Goldstein, the leader of Chabad of Poway.

“This is an example of a leader who refused to leave the synagogue until everyone was accounted for,” Hahn said. “Who continued to encourage his people at the most hurtful moments, and never stopped. … We should take note what leadership means, and what a hero means.”

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