On Saturday, April 27, 2019, exactly six months after the horrific attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, a gunman entered the Chabad of Poway in the northern suburbs of San Diego intent on replicating the massacre.
The fearless courage and resolve of the congregants of the synagogue quickly became evident as the developing story unfolded.
- Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein with blood streaming from both hands after being shot and Almog Peretz, a visitor from Sderot who was also wounded, selflessly rushed to evacuate the children to a place of safety.
- Lori Gilbert-Kaye sacrificed her own life to shield others from the attacker.
- Oscar Stewart, a military veteran who served in Iraq, charged toward and chased the assailant when the assault rifle jammed.
- Jonathan Morales, an off-duty Border Patrol agent, fired several rounds at the fleeing attacker in an attempt to immobilize him.
These brave and heroic individuals saved lives. Miraculously, because the assailant’s gun jammed, the casualties, thank God, were not at the level of the Tree of Life massacre when 11 people were killed and six injured.
Rabbi Goldstein—with bleeding hands wrapped in a prayer shawl—spoke to reassure his congregation while waiting for the authorities to arrive. His first words were, “Am Yisrael Chai” (Israel is alive) followed by a challenge to remain strong in the aftermath of the attack. Then the rabbi reminded U.S. citizens that,
“it was just 70 years ago during the Holocaust we were gunned down like this, and I just want to let my fellow Americans know that we’re not going to let this happen.”
The identity and nefarious ambitions of the murderous attacker also quickly emerged. The characterization of the 19-year old assailant by “USA Today” as, “a staunch hard-right conservative who’s driven by Christian values,” is misleading and patently false.
Please understand that the perpetrator’s actions were in no way driven by Christian values. Hate, the murder of innocents and terrorizing the Jewish community during the last day of Passover do not reflect Christian values.
The New Testament admonishes Christians at least 138 times to love God, to love one another and all humanity. Anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence are not taught in Scripture; the exact opposite is true.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. (1 Jn. 4:7-8).
According to the apostle Paul, love is the ultimate Christian value (1 Cor. 13).
Contrary to rampant media reporting, the driving force behind the perpetrator’s despicable attack was not Christian values, but murderous hatred spawned by blatant white supremacist, anti-Semitic indoctrination. Use the facts to challenge those who dare to say otherwise.
Please join me in praying for the injured, for the grieving and especially for the children who witnessed the horror of the attack in the Chabad of Poway. And, please commit yourself to daily prayer for our country. It’s not too late for the heart and soul of America to be resuscitated. We must return to our Judeo-Christian foundation by reading and assimilating God’s Word personally and nationally.
I want Rabbi Goldstein, the congregation of Chabad Poway and the worldwide Jewish community to be assured that there are Christians who stand in solidarity with you. We weep and grieve with you. We will do all in our power to combat the anti-Semitic ideology responsible for vicious attacks like the one you experienced. We are biblically authentic Christians who love you unconditionally.
Yours most sincerely,
Charles E. McCracken
OLIVE TREE ALLIANCE