Local Jewish leaders: ‘We are not alone in the fight against hatred’

As two county synagogues discussed security options with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, one of them posted a message titled “We Stand with Pittsburgh” on its social media page.

“Today was a bittersweet day for our Temple Beth Or family,” read a Facebook message by Rabbi Judy Chessin and Rabbi Ari Ballaban of Temple Beth Or in Washington Twp. “After (Saturday’s) deadly shooting in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation, our members came out in solidarity and in full force.”

The post said Temple Beth Or received “countless messages of love and support from local churches, law enforcement and friends and neighbors” and added, “We know that we are not alone in the fight against hatred and extremism.”

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Suspected shooter Robert Bowers, 46, is accused of killing 11 worshippers and wounding six others, including four police officers. Bowers had his initial appearance Monday in federal court on 29 counts.

Temple Beth Or communications coordinator Sharon Bengel said Monday they received anonymous bouquets of flowers on the temple steps and a nice letter from the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the members of The Tree of Life Synagogue and to the entire Jewish Community for this senseless loss of life,” the letter said, according to Bengel. “The Muslim Community stands in solidarity with the Jewish community to condemn all hate-inspired violence.”

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Sheriff Phil Plummer said Capt. Mike Brem met Monday with Temple Beth Or and Beth Jacob Synagogue in Harrison Twp. to identify any weak entry points.

“We’re doing a security plan for them,” Plummer said. “We’re discussing off-duty security for them and we’re also doing extra patrols for them as well.”

Plummer, who said deputies did extra patrols on Sunday after Rabbis reached out, added that there were Aryan Nation threats against Beth Jacob years ago so they previously have done risk assessments.

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The Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton announced a community gathering from 7 to 8 p.m. today at Temple Israel at 130 Riverside Drive in Dayton.

“The horrific shooting that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this past Saturday has shaken our worldwide Jewish community to its core,” the organization’s Facebook post said, adding that the gathering will be streamed on Facebook for those who can’t attend. “In this time of sorrow, we invite you to come together … to show support for our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh.”

The post said local Rabbis would lead in prayer for healing and that the Jewish community was invited as well as “all those who stand in solidarity against hate and injustice.”

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Temple Beth OR’s post echoed other area synagogues’ message of finding strength together.

“Today our children came to school with tightened security, but they came nonetheless to learn that their strongest defense is their pride in their faith,” the post said. “Today our high school students engaged deeply about their own safety and consciousness as Jews. They are strong and brave and proud of their identity.

“Today our parents gathered as an ad hoc neighborhood watch, making sure that our facility and our most cherished treasures, our children, are safeguarded. Today our community celebrated a baby-naming, an echo of (Saturday’s) tragic events, but a statement of pride and defiance. We will never stop welcoming our children into our Jewish Covenant.”

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The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) issued a statement Sunday that its members are “horrified and deeply saddened by the hateful, evil shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.”

The center, located in Butler County’s West Chester Twp., offered its condolences for the innocent lives taken and said it stands “in full support with solidarity towards our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

“Hate against one is hate against all of us,” read the organization’s statement. “We will not stand for any such hate as people of faith and as a nation.”

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ICGC said it is imperative that people of all faiths stand up and condemn all such acts of terror and that is stands to protect the sanctity of all houses of worship.

“The loss of innocent lives anywhere in this country or globally is intolerable,” read the organization’s statement. “This is part of our Islamic tradition and is the standard we uphold. We are especially reminded of this at this sad time for our fellow Jewish Americans.”


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