It was another shul — and our shul
AS NEWS emerged of the horrendous attack in Pittsburgh, my heart broke and my thoughts immediately rushed to those who had lost their lives. I tried to grasp the dreadful situation that their family, friends and community had suddenly been thrown into. And I knew, yet again, why CST does its work across all of our UK Jewish communities.
About 48 hours later I found myself representing the volunteers, staff and trustees of CST at the commemorative vigil, held in the JW3 community centre. I thanked the other speakers for their very kind words about CST, but stressed my hope that we could one day live in a world without CST. A world in which CST’s volunteers would not have to risk their lives in protection of our community.
Sad to say, I doubt any of us can realistically imagine such a world. The state of our politics seems to keep getting worse, the levels of hatred keep rising, and the police and security services say they have never made so many counterterror arrests and investigations.
When I read about the Pittsburgh neo-Nazi saying all Jews must be killed, I immediately recalled the British neo-Nazi who was convicted in court this July. In his case, he specifically referred to Jewish children in our shuls as “vermin”. The day after Pittsburgh, I was phoned and told about an incident that had just occurred in north London, in which a man was walking down the street yelling that he would kill all the Jews.
These examples are not even the tip of the iceberg, but they show why CST has to take security so seriously.
It is also why we need every member of our community to play their part. If you see something suspicious, you have to report it. If you find yourself caught in a worst-case scenario, you have to respond quickly and hide or flee.
I want to conclude by citing the remarkable speech made by a member of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community at the JW3 vigil event. She currently lives in London and ever since the attack, keeps being asked “was that your shul?” Her reply is striking. It is simply, “that was everybody’s shul”. As it happens, yes, it was her shul, where she had her batmitzvah in the heart of a thriving community: but it was indeed, all of our shuls.
If you see anything suspicious, report it
David Delew is CST chief executive