In response to the shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina – which left nine people dead and was conducted by Dylann Roof of Lexington, who was arrested Thursday – Jewish groups throughout the US issued statements of shock and condemnation.
Jewish communities around the nation expressed condolences to the families of the victims and the grief-stricken community as a whole.
The Jewish Federations of North America stated:
“Our hearts are broken for the nine souls lost in Charleston last night. To target peaceful worshipers for no apparent reason other than the color of their skin is abhorrent and horrendous. A house of worship should and must be a place of sanctity and of peace, a safe haven for all rather than a target of terror. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the entire Charleston community today, and we stand in solidarity with them against the forces of hatred and violence. May their memories be for a blessing.”
The Rabbinical Assembly issued a statement saying it was “horrified” by the brutal attack.
“The act, deemed a hate crime by Charleston police, is an act of true evil, murdering and terrorizing individuals in a house of worship, a place meant for peace, prayer and serenity. We are deeply disturbed that someone would violate the sanctity of the church in the name of prejudice.
“Hateful, violent acts such as this have no place in our society, in a country known for its diversity and blending of various cultures. No individual should be made to feel unsafe because of his religion, race or ethnicity. As our Jewish tradition teaches us, ‘lo ta'amod al dam re'eikha’ – do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor (Leviticus 19:16). Our thoughts and prayers go out to all members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, their families and friends, and the entire Charleston community.”
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – said it was “outraged by the heinous attack” at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church .
“This act of senseless violence and brutal terror has no place anywhere in the world, but particularly not in a house of worship. Indeed, the perpetrators have violated all houses of worship with this vile attack. We support the efforts of law enforcement officials to bring swift and certain justice to the criminals.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragic attack, pray for the injured and express our support for the people of Charleston at this very difficult time.”