San Diego

Local Jewish Community Mourns Synagogue Shooting Victims

11 people were massacred at a congregation in Pittsburgh Saturday

A sense of sadness and loss was palpable in the San Diego Jewish community this week after the so-called Synagogue Shooting Saturday that left 11 people dead at a congregation in Pittsburgh. Six more were injured. 

“It’s very scary,” said Liudmala Serniai, who lives in San Diego. “It’s not right.” 

At the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in University City, locals were in shock at the violence. 

“I think it's appalling," said Jim Koziol, a member of the JCC in University City. "It's something that our country should not be standing for, should not be tolerating." 

Betzy Lynch, CEO of the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in University City said there were extra police patrol cars on campus Monday. 

"We have excellent support from local and federal law enforcement," said Lynch. "Anytime there is an act against any Jewish community, they increase their patrols of all the areas." 

Lynch said anti-Semitism is still an issue in San Diego. In 2017, her JCC received a bomb threat that led to evacuations. 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in 2017 there was a 57 percent increase in Anti-Semitic violence in the United States compared to the previous year. 

Local psychologist Dr. Edwin Yager said it is important not to live in fear during these events. 

"All of the sensationalism seems to encourage the incidents," said Dr. Yager. 

He said it is especially important for parents to stay calm in front of their kids. 

"Children live in a very suggestible state," said Dr. Yager. "When mom reacts with fear, that's a fundamental communication to the child. We mustn't live in a state of fear." 

A vigil was held at Congregation Beth Israel in La Jolla Monday night to honor the shooting victims.

Organizers said security at the vigil would be increased. Several San Diego police cars were seen in the parking lot, and everyone who entered the vigil went through a security checkpoint that included an ID check and bag searches.

SDPD even positioned snipers on the roofs of nearby buildings.

"I think we all feel a sense of loss of what happened over the weekend and it really reverberates through all communities because everyone feels like they want to go into their place of worship and be safe," ADL Regional Director Tammy Gillies said. "And if you're not safe there, where can you be safe?"

The vigil was at capacity as people from all walks and faith came together in song and prayer, and vowed to stand against prosecution.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer also attended the vigil.

"There is no place for hate," the mayor said. "Not in San Diego, not in Pittsburgh, and not anywhere in our great country."

The ADL said the shooting Saturday was likely “the deadliest attack on the Jewish Community in U.S. history.”

Resources for parents and teachers who need help talking to kids about hate crimes can be found here.

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