SDSU rallies around Jewish community


Johann Oribello

Mourners gathered at Scripps Cottage to commemorate the Chabad Poway Synagogue shooting.

by Johann Derek Oribello, Staff Writer

A sea of somber faces gathered around Scripps Cottage on Wednesday for a vigil just days after the Chabad of Poway Synagogue shooting.

“We all stand together and recognize that we are one family,” San Diego State religious studies lecturer Rabbi Scott Meltzer said. “Nothing can hurt us.”

Many members of the SDSU community gathered to show support and stand in solidarity over the tragic event. Meltzer, who spoke during the vigil, said the shooting affects not only the Jewish community but the wider world as a whole.

“Standing up means anytime somebody talks about ‘those’ people, (they need) to know that we are those people,” Meltzer said. “But on Saturday, those people were Jews. On any given day, those people are people of color. Those people are women. Those people are LGBTQ. Those people are the object of scorn, hatred, and far too often violence. We are those people.”

A campus-wide sent an email by Chief Diversity Officer J. Luke Wood and Jewish Studies Director Risa Levitt Kohn emphasized the importance of standing together as a community against hatred and bigotry.

“We show up in solidarity with members of our Jewish community,” Wood and Kohn said. “We must all reject instances of hatred and violence against people based on who they are, whom they love and where they pray or sit in meditation.”

Environmental sciences senior Sabrina Sessarego attended the vigil and said unity among all people despite differences, is pivotal to prevent further incidents from occurring.

“Although I’m not necessarily a part of this community, I wanted to show support and stand in solidarity with them during a time that is truly trying,” Sessarego said. “This is just a period of time where a lot of things like this seem to be happening and it’s important to show that we’re not standing for violence, especially hateful violence.”

Business and sustainability sophomore Cassie Weinberg, who also attended the vigil, said she was in dismay when hearing the news of the shooting but was amazed at the immense support displayed afterward.

“I was actually at home celebrating Passover with my family when I heard what happened so it was really disheartening to hear,” Weinberg said. “But then seeing how the community is coming together in so many impactful ways — on the day that it happened, there was a vigil. Today, there’s another one, I think that just shows the power of this community.”

Finance junior Justin Rieger said it is critical for people to remain strong and unite with one another in response to hate crimes against targeted groups.

“Stand strong for any acts of hatred, whether it’s to Jews or any minority groups,” Rieger said. “You can’t let this intimidate people. You have to just keep going, stand strong, and show these hateful groups of people that it’s not going to be tolerated and it’s not going to intimidate anyone.”


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