The Jewish community of Charleston, S.C., and the Anti-Defamation League expressed sorrow and solidarity after a gunman opened fire in the historic Emanuel AME Church, killing nine people, including the African-American congregation’s pastor.
Synagogue Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Charleston, condemned the shooter’s “hateful acts” in a statement released Thursday.
Describing the greater Charleston community as “historic, resilient, and strong,” the congregation’s president, Jacobo Mintzer, said that “Synagogue Emanu-El joins in the mourning and commits to promote and share strongly and unconditionally in the healing process.”
“Today, we are all members of the Emanuel AME Church of Charleston,” he wrote.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon before the suspect had been apprehended in North Carolina, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman and Southeast Regional Director Mark Moscowitz also urged Americans to use the tragedy to reflect and work towards a more hopeful future.
“Even though this suspect has not yet been apprehended, from what we know about this unspeakable crime it is hard to imagine that there could have been any motive other than hate,” they wrote. “We should all be looking in the mirror this morning and asking ourselves how such a tragedy could happen in America in 2015, and what we can do to ensure that it doesn't happen again…Our prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the members of their congregation and community. We hope they can find some measure of strength and comfort in the support of the countless people around the U.S. and the world whose thoughts are with them today.”
The suspect has since been arrested and identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, whose Facebook photo shows him in a jacket adorned with flags from apartheid-era South Africa and the formerly white-controlled government of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Both flags are commonly used as white supremacist symbols, according to the ADL.
Rabbi Stephanie Alexander of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, one of the oldest synagogues in America, is away and could not be reached for comment.