David Bramzon: Heartbreak and Gratitude

Dear Chevre,

Last Saturday, I attended the Yizkor memorial service on the final day of Pesach at Chabad of Downtown San Diego. Across town, Randi Feinberg – the mother of Hirsch Neustein (2nd Year, Denver) – approached her synagogue, Chabad of Poway. She saw a man with a gun entering the building and immediately called 911. We all know what happened next.

Many of you have heard me say this: We live in the safest and most prosperous Jewish community in history. But I always follow up that statement with this: We cannot take our safety and prosperity for granted. Chabad of Poway is now the latest example, coming exactly six months after the shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

There is so much to say about this heartbreaking tragedy. But I don't want to dwell on the pain, grief, and anger that so many in the San Diego Jewish community are feeling. Instead, I want to talk about gratitude.

I am grateful that law enforcement reacted swiftly and effectively. Within minutes of the attack, the cowardly shooter was apprehended. Also within minutes, I saw a police car stationed at Chabad of Downtown, where I had been praying.

I am also grateful for my extended Cabinet family. Receiving calls and messages from many of you warmed my heart during these dark days. We, the Jewish People, and Cabinet especially, are a family who are there for one another when we need each other most.

Many who reached out asked what they can do to help.  I have a call to action for all of you.

First, have a conversation within your Federation about security.  Make sure your community is assessing and addressing security needs at all your Jewish institutions.

Second, proudly celebrate your Judaism.  Honor Shabbat this week in some meaningful way.  Light the candles, and bring light into the world.  If you do not normally celebrate Shabbat, do it this week.  And if you observe Shabbat regularly, invite others - Jews and non-Jews – to celebrate with you. Show others the beauty of Shabbat, the benefits of disconnecting, the virtue of reflecting with loved ones, and the richness of our Jewish traditions.

Let’s show the world that we will not back down, and we will not live in fear.


Learn more about our Federation’s response to the San Diego shooting.

David Bramzon (6th Year, San Diego) is Board Chair-Elect at the Jewish Federation of San Diego County.


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