Digital ceremony marks anniversary of Poway Chabad synagogue shooting (

The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) held a digital ceremony on Monday, marking the anniversary of the fatal shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in 2019, which killed one congregant, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, and left three people wounded, including the now-retired rabbi of the Poway Chabad, who was shot in both hands and lost his index finger.Johnathan Morales, the off-duty United States Border Patrol agent who drove the shooter out of the synagogue, spoke at the ceremony and relived his first-hand account of the tragic shooting – describing the subsequent impact it brought upon his life as well as the traumatic effect it had on the San Diego suburb community as a whole.“What I have learned from this antisemitic attack, is that we can’t change people’s beliefs in these antisemitic ideas, but we can promote awareness and education on these issues,” Morales said during the ceremony. “We need to be prepared to protect ourselves and [I] thank God I could immediately step into action to protect our community. But we also need to continue to fight antisemitism with light and love.”Morales was joined alongside notable speakers such as Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, the US Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism Elan Carr and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion and Belief Dr. Ahmed Shaheed.Dr. Shaheed authored a report following the events of the Poway shooting, in which he noted he is “alarmed by the growing use of antisemitic tropes by white supremacists including neo-Nazis and members of radical Islamist groups in slogans, images, stereotypes and conspiracy theories meant to incite and justify hostility, discrimination, and violence against Jews” – alerting international communities of an overall growth in rising antisemitism worldwide. His report, which the Israeli mission to the UN called “unprecedented,” identified antisemitism from all sides of the political spectrum and called for action. Last week, he issued a report on rising antisemitism surround the coronavirus.“Only last week, I issued a global warning about the rise in antisemitism in light of the coronavirus outbreak. I call on governments to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism in full, while ensuring freedom of expression, and to take legislative measures against antisemitism to be enforced both online and in the physical space,” Dr. Shaheed said on Monday. “People should never be complacent about the dangers of antisemitism. My message is that none of us are safe when any of us are unsafe.”Recently, propaganda regarding the virus spread has been pointed at Israel and the Jewish people as a whole, in places like the Palestinian Territories, Iran, Turkey and Jordan in an effort to delegitimize the Jewish state and communities, as fears around the world spread like wildfire.“As the world fights against coronavirus, another virus has taken root in societies around the world. It is not new, rather one of the most ancient viruses, which takes many different forms,” Danon said at the ceremony. “There are many treatments, but no cure. It is antisemitism. Especially during times of crisis, antisemitism raises its ugly head. We are witnessing this again today. The Palestinian Authority is blaming Israeli soldiers for spreading the virus, even as they try to help save the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.”During the event, CAM announced an initiative to plant olive trees in Israel, honoring those who fell victim to the Poway shooting as well as other victims of antisemitic attacks around the globe. The first 25 trees will be planted in memory of Gilbert-Kaye in Kfar Silver, Israel.“First and foremost, it is so important to honor the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye and to remember those who were injured in the appaling attack one year ago at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue,” said CAM director Sacha Roytman-Dratwa. “Despite the current restrictions on everyday life, we were determined not to let this anniversary pass quietly. Only through raising awareness, by educating about the horrific consequences that antisemitism can have, can we begin to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again.” 

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