The tender embrace after a synagogue shooting

Beneath the good deeds after the tragedy in Poway, California, lies a desire to restore a community’s harmony – and to curb hate-filled violence.

People of various faiths join in a vigil for the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting victims at the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church in San Diego, Calif., April 27.

Last Saturday, just after a lone gunman killed one and injured two at a synagogue in Poway, California, any number of people rushed to repair the rupture of harmony in the community. Two Muslims and a Sikh quickly went to the scene to offer aid. A nearby Orthodox church opened its door to the Jewish victims. Another church organized a candlelight interfaith vigil. Someone set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations. Counselors were sent to the homes of the Chabad of Poway victims.

Such tales of good deeds may never be fully tallied but even these few make a point often reinforced after a terrorist attack. In tragedy, people act in ways to recover the absolute values that bind people together despite differences in faith, politics, race, or anything else that creates today’s Towers of Babel.

In their sorrow, people in Poway told of courageous heroes who sacrificed themselves, as Lori Gilbert-Kaye did in shielding Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein from a bullet at the Passover service.

In their fears, people who were once strangers expressed love through shared prayers, hugs, or simply promises to improve security for houses of worship. “We will walk through this tragedy with our arms around each other,” said Poway Mayor Steve Vaus.

The Poway shooting may not go down in history as a major terrorist attack. Yet its stories of recovery are memorable reminders of how people can curb hate-fueled violence by reaching for ideals such as the sanctity of life, the equality of all, and the infinite worth of each individual. The people of Poway are not retreating from their differences. Yet they have now converged by their acts of comfort and a new reliance on ideals that inspire. Their community harmony was not so much restored as they were restored to the norms of harmony.

“We are all partners in creation,” Rabbi Goldstein said after the shooting. The good deeds in Poway provided a rescue from tragedy. They were also a tender embrace of the goodness behind the deeds.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to The tender embrace after a synagogue shooting
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today