CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A community that knows this violence and the heartache all too well is responding to another hate fueled attack in a place of worship.
Several have reached out to the local Jewish community in the wake of the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“The local reaction has been overwhelming. Of course, deeply saddened by what happened. But the reaction from this community has been very, very special. People have been coming by to ask us how we’re doing, to bring flowers, our inbox is full,” said Rabbi Yossi Refson.
Refson says it’s bittersweet. The pain of what happened to their brothers and sisters is mixed with the outpouring of love from their community.
“There is zero Anti-Semitism in Charleston, Charleston’s a wonderful place. Charlestonians recognize the dignity of difference and how special that makes Charleston,” Refson said.
Sandra Brett is from the Pittsburgh area and says she’s been to Tree of Life many times. She says it’s comforting to see those of different religions supporting them as they have in the past.
“I feel on several fronts that the incident affects me from my childhood as well as now. We were there to support those who were the victims of Emanuel. They’ve come to comfort us now,” Brett said.
Brett helped to organize a special film screening at the College of Charleston Jewish Studies Center, a documentary called My Dear Children about a woman caught in the little-known Jewish massacres that led up to the Holocaust.
The director says the screening had been scheduled for awhile and the showing right after this tragedy in a city already too familiar with an incident like this is a tragic coincidence.
“Eleven people were killed last Saturday. In our film we talk about a wave of anti-Jewish violence that left 300,000 dead. It just goes to show you that if you don’t stop the little events, the big events will take over,” said Director LeeAnn Dance.