Jewish groups in region condemn New Zealand mosque massacre

Jewish communities in the region are responding to events in New Zealand, where a gunman killed at least 49 people at two mosques.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Anti-Defamation League South-Central Region issued a joint statement. “We are sickened by this act of wanton bloodshed and grotesque Islamophobia. The effects of intolerant rhetoric are far-reaching, and we urge our community to stand together with us against senseless violence and bigotry.”

Arnie Fielkow, Federation CEO, said “As I’ve had to say in the aftermath of other, similar tragedies in recent months — too many times, unfortunately — hate against one is hate against all.”

ADL Regional Director Aaron Ahlquist said “Our condemnation comes with a call to action to examine the increasing role that technology and social media are playing in the spread of hate around the world.”

The Birmingham Jewish Federation extended its “sympathies and prayers to all those affected by this horrible tragedy and condemns these barbaric attacks.” The agency also extended “condolences to our local Muslim community for whom this outrageous attack is especially painful.”

Birmingham’s Muslim community will host an interfaith memorial at the Hoover Crescent Islamic Center on March 17 at 6 p.m.

On Facebook, Rabbi Deborah Silver of Shir Chadash in Metairie said she was “appalled” by the attack, and has been in touch with the Masjid Abu Bakr in Kenner “to see how we can best show our support for them… In the meantime, please reach out personally.”

The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama issued a statement, saying “no one should be targeted for their faith, ethnicity or their immigration status, and every person should be able to worship in a mosque, church, synagogue, or any religious congregation without fear. We stand in solidarity with Muslims around the world and unequivocally condemn those who foster, perpetuate and carry out hatred against Muslims.

More than words and prayers are needed, the statement continued. “We need to actively work to better understand and to love one another.”

The Federation has contacted the Muslim “family” of Montgomery “to offer any support possible, and our commitment to partnering with the Muslim community will not wane with time or as another story captures the news cycle.”

The East Montgomery Islamic Society and the Muslim Community of Montgomery planned a community-wide vigil and prayer service on March 15 at 7 p.m.

In Huntsville, the Islamic Center will hold a prayer vigil for New Zealand, March 17 at 6 p.m.

In Mobile, the Mobile Masjid of al-Islam will have a community interfaith vigil on March 19 at 6 p.m.

Rabbi David Gerber of Gates of Prayer in Metairie explained the international call to light additional Shabbat candles this weekend, in solidarity with the New Zealand Muslim community.

The week’s Torah reading is Zachor, the Shabbat of Remembrance, when Amalek, the most wicked enemy of the Jews, attacked from behind to exploit weakness, and without cause.

“We, as Jews, stand firmly against Islamophobia in all forms,” Gerber wrote. “We know all too well the experience of oppression and persecution and it is incumbent upon us to support all who suffer from the effects of extreme hatred and bigotry.”

(This post will be updated)