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Religious Tolerance logo


2019-APR: Religiously motivated violence

One killed, three injured at a
California synagogue attack.
Recent surveys on Holocaust knowledge:

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Police officers were called to the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, CA just before 11:30 AM local time on Saturday, 2019-APR-27. (Chabad is an orthodox Jewish Hasidic movement.) People there were participating in a service on the last day of Passover. 1,2 It was exactly six months after the mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 persons were murdered.

Poway is in San Diego County, about 30 km (24miles) NNE of San Diego in Southwestern California.

A lone gunman was reported as having using an AR-tpe assault weapon to kill one person, a woman believed to be Lori Kaye, aged 60. She had attempted to protect the Rabbi, was shot, and died in hospital. 4 Three individuals -- Noya Dahan, a girl aged 8, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, and Almog Peretz, 6 34 were wounded and were later all reported in stable condition. The founding teacher of the synagogue, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, was reported to be one of the wounded men. He was shot in his hand. 1,2

An unidentified witness to the attack said that the shooter was silent during the attack and that:

"He was just focused to kill. You saw the hate and the murder in his eyes."

Fortunately, the gunmans rifle jammed, or the death toll would have been much higher, perhaps exceeding the Pittsburgh mass murder.

Danny Almog was also present. He said:

"... I look to the entrance and I see a guy — he was like 5'6, 5'7, white, with like glasses with a vest on and I think it was an M16 ... he was just standing there, like shooting, shooting, shooting everybody." 3

Oscar Stewart, 51, a member of the congregation ran after the gunman. An off-duty border patrol guard was at the synagogue -- either as a synagogue member or a guard; sources differ. He ordered Steward to stand down, and then opened fire on the gunman as he was running to his car. He missed, and the gunman drove away.

The suspected gunman, John Earnest, 19, of San Diego, CA later stopped his car, placed a 911 call to police, and gave his new location. A San Diego K-9 police officer was in in his car nearby, listening to police calls. He approached the suspects car and the alleged gunman surrendered to him. 6

Earnest is a student at the California State University San Marcos. 3 The police are investigating whether he can be connected to a recent arson at the Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido on MAR- 24, just north of Poway. They are also studying whether he is connected to an anti-semitic maifesto posted on the Internet that was reported twenty minutes before the attack in Poway, with his name as author. The manifesto referred to President Trump, in part, as:

"That Zionist, Jew-loving, anti-White, traitorous [expletive deleted]."

The manifesto also said that the author attacked the Escondido synagogue because he was a good Christian, He wrote:

"My god understands why I did what I did."

He wrote:

"Every Jew young and old has contributed to these. For these crimes they deserve nothing but hell. I will send them there."

Webmaster's comment:

Scapegoating, the act of transferring guilt from a guilty person to one or more innocent, uninvolved people, is found in many places in the Bible. The best known involves Adam and Eve's sin of eating a piece of fruit against God's instructions. Many Christians believe that their children, grand children and people down through successive generations to all of the more than seven billion people on Earth today share the original parent's guilt in what is called the "Original Sin."

I have never been able to understand how a person can be held responsible for sins committed before they were born by other people -- sometimes thousands of years previously.

Earnest has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Ellen Hershkin & Janice Weizman, writing in The Jerusalem Post, said:

"Knowing that hatred exists is not enough. We also have to take active steps to combat it. Teaching Holocaust history to children is one proactive way to combat today’s anti-Semitism. A child who understands the true impact of a swastika or recognizes the deeply ugly nature of a slur about Jews and money will be equipped to identify and call out anti-Semitism on their college campus, in their future industry and in their community. 8

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Reactions to the shooting:

Later, at a rally in Green Bay, WI, President Trump said that anti-semitism:

"... must be defeated. ... The strength of our nation is found in the heart of our people, so true. Tonight, America’s heart is with the victims of the horrific synagogue shooting in Poway, California."

He also tweeted praise for the border patrol guard, saying:

"Sincerest THANK YOU to our great Border Patrol Agent who stopped the shooter at the Synagogue in Poway, California. He may have been off duty but his talents for Law Enforcement weren’t!"

Yisroel Goldstein, Rabbi of the Synagogue, said:

"In the face of senseless hate we commit to live proudly as Jews in this glorious country. We strongly believe that love is exponentially more powerful than hate. We are deeply shaken by the loss of a true woman of valor, Lori Kaye, who lost her life solely for living as a Jew."

Rabbi Yonah Fradkin, the executive director of the Chabad, issued a statement saying:

"In the face of senseless hate we commit to live proudly as Jews in this glorious country. We strongly believe that love is exponentially more powerful than hate. We are deeply shaken by the loss of a true woman of valor, Lori Kaye, who lost her life solely for living as a Jew." 6

Steve Vaus, the mayor of Poway, referred to the attack as a hate crime. He said, in part:

"We are grateful to those in the congregation there that engaged the shooter and prevented this from being a much more horrific incident. ... " 2

"I want you to know, this is not Poway. The Poway that I know comes together just as we did a few weeks ago, in an inter-faith event. We always walk with our arms around each other, and we will walk through this tragedy with our arms around each other." 3

Sara J. Bloomfield, Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC said that the Museum:

"... is shocked and alarmed at the second armed attack on a synagogue in the United States in six months.

Now our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. But, moving forward, this must serve as yet another wake-up call that antisemitism is a growing and deadly menace. The Holocaust is a reminder of the dangers of unchecked antisemitism and the way hate can infect a society. All Americans must unequivocally condemn it and confront it in wherever it appears." 3

Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) tweeted: "Yet again a place of worship is the target of senseless gun violence and hate. Anti-Semitism is real in this country and we must not be silent — enough is enough." 6

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) also tweeted: “Tragic news that a gunman has attacked Chabad of Poway synagogue, on this, the last day of Passover, a day that is supposed to be a celebration of faith and freedom. I am thinking of, and praying for, those hurt and affected." 6

Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California said:

"While we continue to learn more about what transpired, we can’t ignore the circumstances around this horrific incident. ... No one should have to fear going to their place of worship, and no one should be targeted for practicing the tenets of their faith." 5

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, CA, issued a statement saying that the shooting was:

"A horrific reminder that the flames of hatred still burn strong among some. ..."

"An attack, on any house of worship, from churches in Sri Lanka and France to synagogues in Jerusalem or Pittsburgh to mosques in Christchurch, are an assault on human dignity and our rights as people of faith to pray to God." 5

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the shooting:

"... an attack on the heart of the Jewish people. The international community must step up the struggle against antisemitism." 3

A Holocaust Knowledge & Awareness Study, conducted in the U.S. during 2018 by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, found that:

  • 70% of U.S. adults believe that fewer people care about the Holocaust today than they used to.

  • 58% believe that something like the Holocaust could happen again.

  • 45% could not name one of the Holocaust concentration camps or ghettos for Jews. 49% of Millennials could not.

  • 31% believed that two million Jews or fewer were killed during the Holocaust; 41% of Millennials do.

  • Over 80% of U.S. adults have never visitied a Holocaust museum.

  • 41% could not identify what the Auschwitz concentration camp was." 9

Similar results were found by a survey in Canada during early 2019. 10

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Kerri Breen, "1 dead, 3 injured in shooting at California synagogue: officials," Global News, 2019-APR-28, at:
  2. "Multiple people injured after gunman opens fire inside synagogue near San Diego," The Blaze, 2019-APR-27, at:
  3. Dennis Romero, et al,, "Shooting at Chabad synagogue near San Diego kills one, injures three; suspect in custody," NBC News, 2019-APR-27, at:
  4. Ray Sanchez & Artemis Moshtaghian, "Mayor says synagogue shooting in California that left 1 dead and 3 wounded was a 'hate crime'," CNN,2019-APR-28, at:
  5. "One Dead, Three Injured after Shooting at a San Diego Synagogue," Liberty Headlines, 2019-APR-27, at:
  6. Deanna Paul & Katie Mettler, "Authorities identify suspect in ‘hate crime’ synagogue shooting that left 1 dead, 3 injured," Washington Post, 2019-APR-28, at:
  7. Elizabeth Vaughn, "Congregation Chabad Shooting Suspect Refers To Trump As A ‘Zionist, Jew-Loving, Anti-White, Traitorous ...'," RedState, 2019-APR-28, at:
  8. Ellen Hershkin & Janice Weizman, "After the Poway shooting we need Holocaust education more than ever," Jerusalem Post, 2019-MAY-01, at:
  9. "Claims Conference Survey Finds a Significant Lack of Holocaust Knowledge in the United States," Claims conference, 2018-APR, at:
  10. "New Survey by the Azrieli Foundation and the Claims Conference Finds Critical Gaps in Holocaust Knowledge," Claims conference, 2019, at:

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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2019-APR-28
Latest update: 2019-MAY-02
Author: B.A. Robinson
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