Another day, another shooting. Countless times I’ve written that statement. Today is different. It’s not just another shooting. It’s a shooting aimed at my community, my friends and my family.
Earlier today the report came in. Man opened fire at our local Jewish Community Center in Overland Park. The same Jewish Community Center where I grew up. It wasn’t long ago that I was there attending a special arts program on the history of Mah Jongg, one of my favorite games. I know the building and the surrounding neighborhood because it’s my neighborhood.
It’s a peaceful place full of a vibrant community of both Jews and Christians. Many people who attend the JCC aren’t Jewish. The JCC accepts all people of all religions as a place to come together for sports, fitness, arts and community.
Today it is rumored that two of the victims weren’t Jewish. We are all victims of this senseless tragedy regardless of religion. We will grieve together and heal together.
The shooting today is a constant and sad reminder that anti-Semitism is alive and a constant threat. Every Sunday I take my child to Sunday school at our local Synagogue. Every Sunday we walk by a police officer. He is a constant reminder that we are targets. Not long ago she asked me why the police have to be at her Synagogue.
“He is there to keep us safe,” I told her without expanding on what I know and what she will soon learn.
It is such a hard balance as a parent to speak to your child about safety. It’s so hard to know what to tell them and what is better left unsaid. I will look to the experts to help guide those conversations for me this week.
I know there is so much the Overland Park Police are learning about the shooter. I watched the video and heard his cowardly voice yell “Heil Hitler” from the back of the squad car. That’s really all I need to know about him. I don’t give a damn about his guns, whether they were legal or illegal. I don’t give a damn about his politics. Tonight is not a night to politicize this tragedy. Those conversations will happen soon enough. I will probably engage in them, but not tonight…not right now.
I extend my condolences to the families who are grieving. We grieve together as a neighborhood, a city, and even as a nation. Tomorrow is the start of Passover. I am reminded of the saying that all Jews say during Passover Seder – “”All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy come and celebrate Passover.” Those words have different meaning this year. For me it is a reminder that more than ever we need to come together as a community of all religions and heal from this senseless tragedy.
We will never forget.