POWAY, Calif. — Tuesday marks two years since the deadly Poway synagogue shooting, and as the Jewish community continues to live with the tragedy, local leaders are banding together to fight antisemitism.
On April 27, 2019, a gunman armed with an AR-15-style rife opened fire inside the Chabad of Poway, killing one woman and injuring three others.
Community members dropped off flowers at the synagogue Tuesday in memory of Lori Gilbert Kaye.
The shooting happened as the congregation observed Passover, which celebrates freedom.
“We live with the trauma everyday of what happened and we have to work and deal with this every single day,” Rabbi Mendel Goldstein said.
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said he is reminded of the attack every time he passes the synagogue.
“To see the change from two years ago to today: higher fences, bulletproof glass,” he said. “Churches and synagogues are places where they want to throw their arms wide open and welcome people in but they have to protect themselves first. That’s a tragedy.”
Though the fences stand taller and doors and gates remain locked, Goldstein said his congregation will shine.
“When confronted with hate and darkness, we have to fight back with light and compassion,” Goldstein said.
Vaus is one of 600 leaders across the country who has signed the Mayors Against Antisemitism Statement, an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and The American Jewish Committee.
“Nobody in this country, in this world should have to look over their shoulder — not Jews, not Blacks, not Asians. We want people to be more understanding of one another, kinder to one another,” he said.
In an effort to fight darkness with light, Goldstein pitched an idea to Vaus that starts with children.
“Kids collect coins in a little plastic arc, Acts of Random Kindness, and then they donate it once a month to a charity,” Vaus said.
“We want this to go out into the entire city of Poway,” Goldstein said. “Let’s be the source of light and goodness to everyone around us.”