Kansas City Jewish Community Stunned by Rampage On Eve of Passover

Benjamin Netanyahu Offers Condolences to Victims

getty images

By Forward Staff

Published April 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Jewish community leaders were stunned by the shooting rampage at two suburban Kansas City Jewish institutions on the eve of Passover — but urged Jews to continue with their preparations for the holiday.

“Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered loss on this tragic day,” the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City said in a statement. “Our heartfelt gratitude as well to all those in Kansas City and around the world who have expressed sympathy, concern and support.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to the families of those killed by a gunman at two Jewish facilities in Kansas City.

“We condemn the murder that by all the signs was done out of hatred of Jews. The state of Israel, as one with all civilized people, is obligated to struggle against this blight,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued Monday morning.

The JCC, which is also the site of Kansas City’s only Jewish community day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, was a hub of activity on Sunday. Several groups were meeting and the academy was preparing for a school dance.

Bailey Wainestock, 16, said she was attending a youth organization meeting with other girls at the community center when they were told it had been locked down due to a shooting. They barricaded the door until security officers rushed them out afterward.

“We didn’t know what to think, we were all in shock,” Wainestock said in an interview.

Her father, David Wainestock, said the Midwest is supposed to be safe.

“It’s pretty traumatic,” David Wainestock said. “The thought of something like that happening is terrifying. “In the Midwest we think we’re safe from this type of thing. But I guess it doesn’t make any difference now.”

Matt Davis told the Kansas City Star that he was out shopping for a suit for his son’s bar mitzvah when he spotted police arresting the suspect.

“We live in this Jewish community,” Davis said. “It’s hard for me to comprehend something like this, a hate crime.”

Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain with the Overland Park, Kan., police department, said the rampage was particularly painful because it came on the eve of Passover.

“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said

He called the Kansas City community a “tight-knit” one that would come together in the wake of the tragedy, as it has done before.

Mandl said there was little doubt that the gunman acted out of hatred for Jews, although authorities said they weren’t sure about any link to Passover.

Rabbi David Glickman, of the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Overland Park, also rushed to the Jewish Community Center when he heard the news of the shooting.

The Kansas City area has a Jewish community of about 20,000.

“This is so abberational. Everybody is shocked that it would happen here,” said Glickman. “This is a community that enjoys very strong and positive relations between the Jewish community and the rest of the community.”

Karen Aroesty, the director of the local Anti-Defamation League office, cautioned against drawing conclusions about the attack until more details were known.

“People have anxiety, and when there is a Jewish institution involved, the first reflex is to go the negative as soon as possible,” she said.

Aroesty praised the police response.

“The law enforcement response so far has been very quick and substantive,” she said.

The Secure Community Network, the security affiliate of national Jewish groups, asked communities nationwide to increase security measures, but urged Jews to attend services and other Passover-related events as they had planned before the shooting.

“They need to review secure plans and reach out to police partners to ensure that they work closely with the Jewish community over the next couple of says — review, test and exercise their response plans,” SCN director Paul Goldenberg told JTA. “They need to trust their instincts and err on the side of caution.”

Goldenberg said it was critical that Jews carry on with their Passover plans.

“The Passover celebration is a precious moment for American Jews, and an act such as this should not keep us from synagogues, celebrations and Jewish centers,” he said.

With JTA and Reuters


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.