Topeka Rabbi reacts to Jewish Center Shooting

In this photo provided by KSHB41 Action News, authorities respond the Jewish community center after a shooting in Overland Park, Kan., Sunday, April 13, 2014. (AP Photo/KSHB41 Action News)

The shootings at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park have rocked the Jewish community here in Kansas.

“I think of the Kansas City Jewish Center as a home base for me, a place that I love, a place that I know very well,” said Rabbi Debbi Stiel, Rabbi at the Topeka Beth Sholom.

Rabbi Debbie Stiel caught wind of multiple shootings at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, while she was at Temple in Topeka.

“I couldn’t believe it struck so close to Topeka,” said Stiel.

Stiel has close personal ties to the center. “My kids had gone to school there for 6 years at the jewish community center, and so it felt very very personal,” said Stiel.

It is a shock to the Kansas Jewish Community. A hate crime, targeting them, so close to Passover.

Stiel says the hatred behind these attacks is no different than the hatred she has dealt with before.

“There are people who are anti-Semitic, who hate you just because you’re a little different,” said Stiel.

Chris Hamilton is a professor at Washburn University, he teaches classes on extremist and hate groups, and religion and politics. He has studied the suspected shooter, Frazier Glenn Cross, who has White Supremacist ties.

“Being one of the prime founders of the White Patriot Party. There were a number of neo-Nazi, White Nationalist parties created in the United States,and that was a big ones in the ’80s, so he’s been on everybody’s radars. He’s a big fish in white nationalism,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton says the attacks were probably an isolated incident. But Stiel says they will still step up security at Temple this week.

“There’s still the worry. There’s still the concern about the violence and people who are hateful,” said Stiel.

Stiel says there will be a short inter-faith service Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center.


Temple Beth Sholom’s Rabbi Debbie Stiel in Topeka sent the following statement to members in regards to Sunday’s tragic shooting in Overland Park.

“Dear Temple Beth Sholom community,

What an incredible tragedy yesterday. Many of us have spent many joyful hours at that Jewish Community Center, and it is so hard to imagine the joy of that place shattered with gunfire. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families and to the KC Jewish community.

I want you to know that there will be a short service of unity and hope Thursday morning at 10am at the Overland Park JCC and I will talk about this from the bima Friday night. Already I feel, and I hope you do too, the tremendous outpouring of support from Jews and non Jews throughout the world through e-mails, Facebook and other forms of communication.

We will have security at the Temple Passover seder on Tuesday and will of course continue to have it for Shabbat services.

The haggadah tells us that not just one enemy has arisen to try to kill us but many. Unfortunately, we were reminded of the truth of that yesterday.  I pray that we will not give in to their evil wishes but will remain a vibrant, purposeful community.  Wishing you and your families a meaningful and liberating Pesach.

May we go from darkness to light and try to be among those who bring more light to the world.  Wishing solace to the whole Jewish community as we mourn and may we bring strength to the KC Jewish community at this difficult time.

Thank you for all you do for our community.”

Where: JCC, White Theatre

When: Thursday, April 17, 10:00 am

What: Interfaith Communal Service of Unity and Hope


Join with members of the greater Kansas City community in an interfaith service of unity and hope, in response to the tragedy that has fallen upon our entire community. Clergy from throughout the community will lead us in prayers of solace, healing, and hope. Our 45-minute service will be held at the Jewish Community Center, White Theatre. We encourage all to support the victims’ families in their sorrow and to unify, as a community, around the values of faith and hope.


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