A Call to Moral Solidarity In The Wake of the Chabad of Poway Shooting

By Rev. Dr. J. Lee Hill, Jr.

Instead of celebrating the final days of a beloved Jewish Holy Week, our San Diego Jewish community and the extended interfaith community has been brought to tears following the deadly, hate-driven shooting at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue. We are once again called to stand in solidarity against hate.

It was six months ago that our interfaith community gathered to grieve the terror and hate unleashed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. In January, we gathered to pray in the wake of the bombing of a Catholic church in Jolo, Philippines. A few weeks ago, our interfaith community gathered to grieve and speak out against the terror and hate unleashed at the Islamic mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Just one month ago, a mosque in Escondido was set afire. And now, in the wake of several Black Churches set ablaze in Louisiana and the Easter Sunday bombings of houses of worship in Colombo, Sri Lanka, San Diego finds its name among the growing list of those violated and targeted by people who harbor hate.  

As people of faith, goodwill and conscious, we must boldly speak out against these egregious and despicable acts of terror that target people of faith in their most vulnerable state, prayer and worship. We must decry these acts as evil, shameful and intolerable in our community, our nation and all over the world. We boldly proclaim that people of faith, without regard to their religious beliefs, should never fear going to a houses of worship to practice and deepen their faith. We must call upon every person in our community to denounce these shameful acts not only in safe circles of like mindedness, but also in the public square. We must work in every way to advance and sustain communities of inclusion, safety, love and justice for all people.

We cannot remain silent in the face of these immoral acts.  

We cannot sit still.

We must resist.

We must fight, and we must pray.

Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor well known for his resistance to antisemitism in the 1930’s, reminds us all of how important it is to speak our truths in these perilous times. His words, etched in stone on memorials throughout the world, speak to us today:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

    Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

    Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

    Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

As we extend our thoughts and prayers to our everyone is directly impacted by antisemitic hate in Poway and all who have been emotionally and spiritually wounded. Let us vow to never remain silent in the face of hatred, oppression, and violence. Let us instead recommit ourselves to advance love, shalom and justicia everywhere.

Rev. Dr. J. Lee Hill, Jr. is the Interface Justice Coalition coordinator.