I said that only urgent news would make me interrupt my family holiday before the New Year, but I think it’s urgent that I ask you to please join me in praying for the victims of a string of attacks on Jews in the New York/New Jersey area over the past week, and of Sunday’s shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, west of Fort Worth. In Texas, two people are dead, including the shooter, and one injured. The latest anti-Semitic attack in the Northeast happened in Monsey, New York, when a man walked into the home of a rabbi and stabbed five people who were celebrating Hanukkah. This rising tide of anti-Semitic violence has many Jews voicing concerns that it is scarily reminiscent of the days before the Holocaust.
Fortunately, Texas recently passed a law allowing concealed carry permit owners to have their weapons in churches, so it did not turn into the kind of mass church shooting we’ve seen before. The service was being live-streamed on the Internet, and less than three seconds elapsed from the first shot to an armed guard stopping the shooter.
The video also showed several members of the congregation pulling out weapons and pointing them at the shooter, so if the guard hadn't been there, half a dozen "good guys with guns" were. Contrary to predictions, they didn’t start firing wildly and hitting bystanders. They acted responsibly and were prepared to stop the shooter, if need be. Who knows how many victims there might have been if they’d had to wait 15 minutes for the police to show up?
But I don’t want to politicize these attacks because there are too many people already cynically and self-servingly doing that. I’ll talk about some of the responses after New Year’s Day. In the meantime, let’s concentrate on what’s really important and pray for those who were killed, for the swift and full recovery of the injured, for comfort for their loved ones, and for a miraculous cure to the sickness in the hearts of anyone who would defile a house of worship with violence or assault their fellow human beings just because of their religious faith.