Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Shooting at Los Angeles Synagogue

Over the past two days, I have posted about the appropriateness of hate crime legislation and about people’s concern over anti-Semitism. Today’s shooting at Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue in North Hollywood, in which two members were shot at close range, brings together both of those previous posts. And in what some might find surprising, does nothing to alter my previously stated views.
One commenter’s observation on my hate crimes post, that I would change my tune if someone spray-painted a swastika on a synagogue and suddenly embrace such legislation, is now demonstrably wrong. This is a whole lot worse than graffiti, and I still resist the rush to label this a hate crime, let alone prosecute it as such. And in this case LA Mayor Villaraigosa is with me.


Villaraigosa cautioned people to go slow and not make claims which cannot be substantiated. He is correct, as he is to have instructed the LAPD to post additional guards at Jewish institutions, just in case. Vigilance is always appropriate. Fear-mongering is not. If this was an act of terrorism, it should be prosecuted as such. But if it was simply an angry young man with a gun, it should be handled as the crime it was. Nothing more and nothing less.
Ironically, the ADL released a study today which shows that anti-Semitism is at an all time low. Barely 12% of those surveyed indicated any hostility to Jews simply because they are Jewish, or express any hostile stereotypes of Jews. In other words, let’s try and take “yes” for an answer – at least until we know otherwise.



  • Gwyddion9

    I’m truly sorry to hear about this. I don’t care who a person is in that when one goes to worship however they define the divine, they shouldn’t have to be concerned about their lives. However you define this situation or what ever the real reason was, I hope the people at the Temple are well. That those who were wounded will heal, physically, mentally and spiritually and be able to move on with their lives.
    I also hope they are able to catch and punish the individual(s) involved.

  • Hathor

    Yeah don’t call it a “Hate Crime”, just “Post additional guards at Jewish institutions, just in case.” *eyeroll*

  • m.e.graves

    I will stop mentioning the importance hate crimes legislation if you can have the integrity to say in front of a Jewish congregation with a straight face that there is no difference between spraying graffiti on a bridge of random gibberish and spraying graffiti on a synagogue of a swastika. If you can make an honest case that the intentions of somebody spraying the symbol of Nazism are the exact same as somebody spraying a meaningless symbol on a random piece of property, in front of a Jewish congregation, then you will have shown that hate crimes legislation is unnecessary.

  • Jordan Hirsch

    You are confusing two points. The fact that the LA mayor is not willing to rush to judgement on the nature of this horrific crime does not mean that he feels there should not be a category of hate crime legislation. It just means we should get all the facts before making a judgement. Only a moron would dispute that.
    So we are all on safe ground here.

  • Henrietta22

    An angry young man with a gun, you say Rabbi Brad? He just ambled into the underground parking for the Synagogue, and what then? Was it his plan to shoot the nearest Jewish person available, or was he retarded and planned to shoot to see if he could hit someone? If it were the latter he could have done that anywhere in North Hollywood. Attacks on Jewish Synagogues have increased in the last year, according to news. You can dislike someone or group, but when you use a gun to hurt them I think that’s a chance hate has crawled in.

  • Your Name

    i agree with the Rabbi… is possible that it was just some loser with a gun and the two sefardim just surprized him… but i DONT agree that anti-semitism is at an all time low…. so much of what i see on the internet ( without looking by the way ) talks about ” Ethics of the Fathers “, Jewish world domination via financial routes, Bernie Madoff ET AL…..there were many Jewish people involved in HIS crimes against humanity….. so no ADL….thats wishful thinking…….i too wish it were really so and its not….. Every Jew must maintain vigilance……hope for the best……prepare for the worst….. To quote Walter Matthau in the movie ” Fail Safe “…” how long do you think the Nazis would have continued if every Jewish home they visited to arrest Jews, greeted them with a gun in their hand?? ” pls see the movie for the verbatim wording….but you do get the idea…… i am alone in the world, because all my family that thought ” what are they gonna do…kill us all “……were killed….all of them. History is Prologue……..Never Again

  • David Warheit

    You say “If this was an act of terrorism, it should be prosecuted as such.” Well, what do you mean by “terrorism”? If you mean an act designed in general to terrorize, then there is no “if”, it was a pure act of terrorism. If you mean an act designed to terrorize Jews, then of course we will have to wait and see what the shooter’s motivation was, but if it was that, then you have conceded that this was a hate crime and should be specially punished.

  • Steve Marx

    Some previous comments posted here seem to be debating whether or not the LA synagogue shooting is a hate crime or not. Most of us know that it is likely to be, but there ought to be a proper investigation to determine if it is or not.
    I don’t think Rabbi Brad is arguing whether this was a hate crime or not. Nor has he ever argued whether there is such a thing as crime driven by class hatred; of course, there is. In a posting earlier this week, he made the case for why hate crimes should be viewed as a social issue and not as a criminal issue.
    I fully agree with him. Whether it’s murder or graffiti, we already have laws and they are sufficient. We don’t want ever to have laws about what people think or believe; we only want to have laws about what people do. From a justice standpoint, it is dangerous, and contrary to our values, to view first-degree murder motivated by hatred any differently from any other first-degree murder.

  • RB

    This subject brings to mind the post from this past September 4th titled, “Rabbis with Guns – Just What We Need,” in which Rabbi Brad chastised Rabbi Gary Moscowitz for being a vigilante because Rabbi Moscowitz is teaching rabbis and congregants self defense for their synagogues. Rabbi Brad called Rabbi Moscowitz, those he’s teaching, and his supporters “a bunch of well-intention knuckle heads.” “The group is doing ‘anti-terrorist training’ and preparing to bring weapons to synagogue to deal with the possible threat of terrorism over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I am not sure which is worse, how stupid this is, or how dangerous.”
    So, this particular reported shooting at Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue was a little delayed after the high holy days. And we should be “cautious” about calling it a “hate crime.” Ultimately, imho, it really doesn’t matter how we “label” the motive for this shooting, or any shooting. WHO CARES? Jews are being targeted for whatever the motive may be. Jews have been blamed for just about every problem and ill on planet earth for 4000 years. But today, we have to give it a label to be able to justify doing something about it.
    Rabbi Moscowitz is correct. We NEED to be vigilant. We do NEED to know how to protect and defend ourselves. The LA police are not going to be permanently stationed to watch out for Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue. They may be there for a week. I have precedent for that as where I work there was a shooting in the parking lot (fortunately, thank God, no one was hurt), and the police sat watch for a week. And then, they were gone. And we continue to have an unarmed security force who is charged to call 911 in the event of a security problem or violent situation on the work site. And, the average time for police to respond to an EMERGENCY is 30 minutes, and that’s where I live. Check it out people. Ask a policeman what the response time is where you live. How much harm can be done in 30 minutes? Time it! Be real. A lot of people can be hurt and killed in that amount of time.
    Anti-Semitism, a term which actually conceals the truth that it’s not only hatred of Jews, and Judaism, and Israel, but hatred of the God of the Jews/Israel, IS becoming more widespread, world-wide. It IS on the rise here in the USA, whether the ADL’s statistics support it or not. Guess what folks, you’ve never heard of statistics being manipulated for an unstated agenda? What better way not to make waves than try to convince Jews they are safe. Do I hear an echo? Isn’t this what happened in the Jewish community before the Nazis came in and disarmed the population and went after and murdered 6 million Jews along with millions of others in an attempt to exterminate the Jewish people and take over the world?
    Yes, Rabbi, let’s not look at this shooting for what it is. Let’s be “cautious” about what has happened here. Let’s take our time and make sure there really is a problem here. Labels are what matters, yes? Let’s wait and let someone else defend us. Let’s be good little Jews and quietly allow the people of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to once again set ourselves up to be exterminated. What’s one more shooting? Feh!
    Rabbi Moscowitz, I hope you’ve been in touch with Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue. They need you!

  • Laura Weakley

    Unfortunately, quite a lot of the commenters seem to be arguing against their own points. Hate crime legislation is about people’s actions. However, if known groups who spread their hate are stopped before their intentions are carried out, then lives are saved. To save a life is to save the world.
    About the graffiti, hate is hate. There is no good reason to paint symbols of hate anywhere. The only reason to do it is to stir up hatred and fear. As far as the Los Angeles shooting, absolutely, the facts will need to be in before it can be determined if it was a hate crime or not! In my thinking, the only way it wasn’t was if the shooting was personal. But you have to be realistic, if someone shoots in a public place, others will see them. Also, going to a Synagogue to shoot someone is clearly a statement of hate, disrespect, and disregard for all who attend the synagogue, church, mosque, etc. Otherwise, why shoot in a public place where there’s an extremely good chance of getting caught.
    The fact no one was killed speaks to a warning that the people who attend, in this case Jewish people, are not wanted in the neighborhood. Otherwise, the shooter is a terrible shot. I use generalizations because hate crime legislation is not ONLY about Jewish people as targets.
    Also, what the L.A. Mayor said was really typical legal-ease for the instance of “having all the facts first” to make any kind of decision – perhaps even being what my husband calls “political speak”. A r’fua shlema for the victims and their community and families. May this horrible incident not breed hatred in your hearts (nor those of ANYONE ELSE, regardless of race, ethnicity, or other identifying information!).

  • Chaya Long

    These crimes are hateful, and hate-spurred. But I agree with the Rabbi that crimes should be prosecuted for what they are: crimes against the laws of the state or country. If I were killed because I’m Jewish, I wouldn’t want to become another statistic under the “hate crime” label. Hate crimes against Jews. Against Blacks. Against Gays. Against Asians. Where would the labelling stop?

  • Just A Thought

    I suspect there will always be hatred towards the Jews for referring to themselves as the Chosen People…with the implicit suggestion that the rest of the world ‘is not’ (chosen)
    Its been said that we all garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of our own planting and as such there is always a downside to ones self aggrandizing claims.

  • Allan Cohen

    I think this shooting was done by one person who was angry for some reason and he saw the shul first and it was close by so he just decided to shot somebody and not worry about religion of the people.

  • Monica A. Ollendorff

    I raise an eyebrow to the report that hate crime(s) against Jews are at an all time low. What criteria/definitions do the ADL use?
    I do not intend this question to be argumentative, but can’t a hate crime be considered an act of terrorism, or doesn’t terrorism include hate crimes?
    Thoughtful, considered (and considerate) feedback encouraged.

  • Abambagibus

    Rabbi Hirschfield mentioned a recent ADL study showing anti-Semitism at an all time low, with barely 12% of those surveyed indicating any hostility to Jews because their Jewishness or expressing any hostile stereotypes of Jews. If this 12% is supposed to be a representative section of the general population, a percentage which the good Rabbi apparently deems to be a good thing relative to past percentages, then circa 3.6 million mild-to-harsh anti-Semites in the US alone is also a good thing, according to the good Rabbi. At least it’s a lot less than it used to be at one time or another. Of course, one must liberally consider the considerable probability of the shooting at Los Angeles Synagogue as having been a love crime. There are those to love to hate, and those who love to shoot at those whom they would love. Who knows?

  • Abambagibus

    In the light of my approximately 10% error of late and in need of a more accurate remedy, I append the following : It is not circa 3.6 million but circa 36.7 million mild-to-harsh anti-Semites in the US alone whom American Jews have little to worry about. Thus, as if peering thru a microscopic lens with ten times resolution of a magnifying glass, all is made clearer to the critical eye in love.

  • adamronchi

    That’s bad incident for las angeles that crime is rising in their city.This week also Shooting is done at Los Angeles and two men were shoot from close range.
    cartucho r4i

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Windows and Doors. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Truths You Can Use Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!   ...

posted 1:28:03pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Apple's "Jew or Not Jew" App -- Should It Be Legal?
An Apple application that let users guess which French politicians or celebrities are Jewish was pulled from France's App Store. but its American equivalent is still available. French activist groups said the "Jew or Not Jew?" app violated ...

posted 1:18:48am Sep. 18, 2011 | read full post »

Is God A Christian?
R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often ...

posted 11:59:56am Sep. 12, 2011 | read full post »

Remembering 9/11 - Part One
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brings up many emotions and presents some very real challenges, among them how to remember the past without being imprisoned by it.  This video, filmed at St. Paul's, the church closest to the World Trade Center ...

posted 2:40:58pm Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days
Below is a copy of the Statement I got from the White House, and while I appreciate the words, I can't help but also ask, "Is this the best we can do?"  United States Mission to the United Nations Office of Press and Public Diplomacy 799 ...

posted 9:04:17am Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.