Skip To Content

The Morning After — A Bris In The Chabad Of Poway Community

On the day of the Poway Chabad shooting, a grandfather was in shul receiving an aliyah [Torah honor] in honor of his grandson’s bris the next day. Halfway through his Torah reading, he heard the gunshots coming from the hallway. He instinctively ran, and after Shabbat ended, he asked his grandson’s mohel if he should delay the bris scheduled for the following day due to the tragic events that had unfolded.

The mohel, Rabbi Shalom Denbo, gave the grandfather an unequivocal answer: “Absolutely not!”

The mohel, Rabbi Shalom Denbo

The mohel, Rabbi Shalom Denbo Image by Rabbi Shalom Denbo

Denbo, a Los Angeles-based mohel with more than two decades of experience, was emphatic about making sure the family still held the bris. “I find it incredibly surreal that this happened on the last day of Pesach,” said the rabbi, in a phone interview. “On Passover we sing ‘Vehi Sheamda.’ Not only did this happen to our forefathers; this has happened in every generation. People are going to try and kill us. But HaShem saves us. That’s the testimony of the bris. In your blood you shall live. You will be eternal. There will be suffering and people may try to kill us but they will not be able to destroy us because we have that eternal covenant with the Almighty.”

On Sunday morning, Denbo traveled to the family’s house for the bris, since the synagogue was on police lockdown. There were 30 people in attendance, and the father and rabbi brought up the shooting. “It was a very moving and emotionally charged bris,” said Denbo.

At the bris, the family named the child Baruch, Hebrew for “blessing”. According to Denbo, the father said that even though the shooting happened, “this baby is a blessing because life is a blessing.”

Baruch’s bris was the second one Denbo had performed for the family. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway did the baby naming at the first, and had planned to be at the second one. Since he was in the hospital, recovering from surgery, the father was hesitant to keep everything as planned.

“I said under no circumstances should you push this off,” said Denbo. “It’s specifically at those times that are bloody, dark, dismal and scary and where we are being threatened and we think life is going deeper and deeper into an abyss that we have to choose to live. We have to be that light unto the world and be that change and inspiration to the world around us and say life is beautiful. It’s a gift from the Almighty.”

Denbo continued that even though the Jewish people are facing hatred, that can’t stop us from being who we are. “The only way to combat hatred is with love,” he said. “The only way to combat darkness is with light. The only way to combat anything is to bring God and Torah into the world. The shooter was a desecration, and we have to be a sanctification. That is the lesson we have to take away.”

Kylie Ora Lobell is the Jewess in Chief at, as well as a writer for,, The Forward, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Time Out NY/LA.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.