VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach rabbi is promoting unity just a day after a gunman opened fire on worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people.
Rabbi Israel Zoberman has been in ministry for 40 years and knows firsthand what actions can come from anti-Semitism.
His parents were holocaust survivors from Poland and he spent his early childhood living near concentration camps in Europe.
“No one would’ve expected that this, which reminds of the worst massacre in Jewish history, would be revisited on American soil,” Zoberman told 10 On Your Side.
Zoberman said the pain of this shooting is hard to shake and something he won’t soon forget. He hopes this is a turning point for our country.
“I think this is a time of soul searching for our nation. We have to get to the bottom of the roots of this type of evil. There are a lot of factors, obviously. There are a lot of factors that go into it.We can’t take this as business as usual,” he said.
Zoberman said the shooting, which took place during a baby naming ceremony, goes against everything that America stands for. While only one group was targeted, he says everyone is affected and should stand together against this type of hate.
“We are all in it truly. This time the Jewish community was the target. In the past, African Americans have suffered. There are others. The famous saying is when we don’t stand up for each other, when it’s our turn no one stands up for us,” he said. “We all have to be united at a time like this. We have to realize that what’s at stake is the wellbeing of every American.”
Zoberman said that he has received tons of supportive calls from interfaith leaders. Now, he’s calling on the community to combat hate to make the world a better place so this doesn’t happen again.
“Reach out to your neighbors, wherever you go. Do not take for granted the mindset of anyone. Smile more. Try to communicate more. Learn more about who your neighbors are. When you see someone in distress or on social media in something that is quiet unpleasant, see what you can do more about it,” he said.