Sacramento Jewish Faith Leaders Heartbroken after Poway Synagogue Attack

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SACRAMENTO -- Faith leaders in Sacramento are heartbroken for the victims in Poway.

Just six months after the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history rocked Pittsburg —a gunman killed one person and injured three others at a synagogue near San Diego on Saturday.

Unfortunately, hate-filled attacks are not new to our area. A rabbi told FOX40 that Saturday morning’s attack on yet another Jewish synagogue only re-opened old wounds.

About twenty years ago this June, three synagogues were fire bombed in Sacramento County.

“It doesn’t matter what religion you are. You expect your houses of worship to be a place where you can gather and pray in peace,” B’nai Israel Rabbi, Mona Alfi said.

The pain and heartbreak of what the mayor of Poway describes as a hate crime, sent shockwaves around the world — including right here in northern California.

“Today, I just felt angry. I felt angry that, yet another person could pick up a gun and go into a house of worship and attack people,” Alfi said.

The words, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ are cemented on the walls of the Temple B’nai Israel in Sacramento.

Rabbi Alfi says the sight of her temple on fire remains vivid in her memory and left her congregation forever changed.

“It was an incredibly important moment for our congregation, not just because of the shock of the attack but also what it led to afterwards with the incredible interfaith community coming together,” she said. “It, in many ways, shaped who we are.”

The attack in southern California awakened haunting memories of that tragic Sacramento day.

“I just couldn’t believe this happened again,” said Deborah Gonzalez.

But since then, places of worship in Sacramento have tightened their security.

Gonzales, President of the Sacramento Jewish Federation, says police and synagogues continue to work side by side in protecting congregations from outside threats.

“We’re safe. I mean we’re as safe as we can be,” she said. “Each organization has had their own threat assessment done. Each organization has its own security set up, so people shouldn’t be afraid.”

By Saturday night, the Jewish community in Sacramento was standing in solidarity with Poway — as they renew their call for healing and peace.

“I think the message is just to look out for one another, but this isn’t going to stop us from practicing our faith. It’s not going to stop us from trying to be good people,” Gonzales stated.

Sunday night rabbi Alfi’s temple will be holding a special congregation on Holocaust Remembrance Day or Yom Hashoah, at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

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