Statement on the shooting of the Chabad Center in Poway, CA


The CSRA Jewish community is angry and horrified by yet another senseless, violent, antisemitic attack on an American synagogue, this time at the Chabad in Poway, California. One person has been killed and three others, including a child, have been injured. We mourn the loss of life, pray for the quick recovery of the injured, and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Poway and San Diego Jewish communities.


The suspect, a 39 year-old white supremacist, claimed the attack was intended to defend the place of the white people in this country. We believe this country is a covenantal society, and our covenant is the Constitution of the United States and all its amendments; a document intended to ensure that all men are equal under the law and that they enjoy the same rights and privileges. That comes at a price – the price of social responsibility, the price to make sure that hatred and bigotry have no place in American society. It is our common responsibility as citizens. We must defend our freedoms by standing together, as one, against all forms of prejudice and discrimination. The United States of America if founded on the principle of individual rights; we cannot, we shouldn’t, we will not stand for anything less.


Our local community works closely with the Secure Community Network, a partnership of law enforcement agencies, the Department of |Homeland Security and the Jewish Community, to protect our Jewish institutions. Jews have been an integral part of this society for more than 350 years. Jews fought for the freedom of this country and defended it from foreign enemies. We are part of the American Covenant. And we will defend it.



Guest Column submitted to the Augusta Chronicle (PUBLISHED)


The Canary in the mine

By Daniel Chejfec


On Saturday, October 27, Robert Bowers burst into Congregation Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) in Pittsburgh, PA, at the cry of “All Jews must die” and shot 13 Congregants. In the subsequent confrontation with the police forces, he shot four Police officers. At the end of the day, eleven people were dead and six fighting for their lives.


As Jews, we are used to serve as the canary in the mine for society’s illnesses. Robert Bowers represents hate for differences, and fear of change. He also represents those who have no compunction to resort to violence to make their points known.


Our American society is exceptional. We are heirs to a covenantal political system based on freedom and individual rights. No other society in history embodied those values like ours does. But freedom and individual rights have limits; the limits imposed by civilized society to protect all its members. When those limits are ignored, societies can fall into the abyss of barbarism and violence. It happened before. It happens today. It can happen tomorrow. It is incumbent upon each member of society to be vigilant against these acts which run counter to everything America stands for.


Judah Samet is a Holocaust Survivor who arrived 4 minutes after the shooting to the parking lot at the synagogue. When told what was happening, he just said “My God, my story never ends” But he was spared. Another eleven people, ages 54 tom 92, were not. Their families will have now to live with their reality of their absence and the violence of their deaths.


This was an Anti-Semitic attack, but it was not about Jews. It was about an individual convinced that using violence and killing people to express his frustrations was acceptable. All Americans of all walks of life must stand as one to make sure the cycle of violence that seems to hover over our society stops.


We must stand up to stop violence in our houses of worship, in our schools, in our neighborhoods. Those who use violence intend to divide us. The best way to stop them is to stand united across all our differences in defense of our freedom to be different.


Eighty four years ago, in Germany, a group came to power who believed they could dictate others who they should be, and who believed that those who were different, those who did not fit their idea of “acceptable arians”, needed to be exterminated. Over 60 million people died in the war they initiated.


Let us stand today together against bigotry and against hatred and against violence. Let us stand together for Freedom, for inclusion, for acceptance. Let us, as one, uphold the values that define our society. Let us give the words “We, The People” its full meaning.



Statement on shooting at Congregation Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, PA, October 27, 2018


The Augusta Jewish Federation wishes to express our most profound shock and grief at the shooting of thirteen congregants and four police officers during worship services at Congregation Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, PA, at 9:45 am ET on Saturday, October 27, 2018. This senseless act of Anti-Semitic violence resulted in the deaths of eleven congregants and the wounding of two congregants and four police officers.


 Our hearts go out to the families of the victims; may their memories be a blessing to all.  We pray for a speedy and complete recovery of the wounded. In recent years there has been not only an increase in the number of Anti-Semitic attacks, but also an increase in the violent nature of these attacks.


Our society is founded on a the basic principle of respect for our differences and for the right of all Americans to worship in any way we so choose. The attack in Pittsburgh is an attack on these fundamental freedoms, on the very nature of the American way of life.


 We commend the law enforcement agencies for their prompt responses to this horrific incident and we are grateful for the immediate apprehension of the perpetrator. These brave officers risked their lives on our behalf. We are also confident that the courts will punish those responsible to the maximum extent of the law, and send a message that hate crimes are not acceptable in our American democracy.  We pray for peace and the ability of our leaders to unite us, the United States of America.