Community Vigorously Renews Efforts in Denouncing Antisemitism
Community message by Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus, Renee Lafair and Andy Dooher
On Saturday, January 15, 2022, hostages were taken at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Thankfully, all were returned safely. Community leaders expressed gratitude for the outcome as well as the role of local and federal law enforcement in securing the safe return of the hostages. They also called for a vigorous renewal of efforts in denouncing antisemitism.
Following the event, the community had an outpouring of support for Rabbi Cytron-Walker and his family, the Congregation Beth Israel community and all affected by the terrifying event. What is more, community leaders offered well wishes to begin the path of healing and called for all to vigorously renew their efforts in denouncing antisemitism.
“The growing antisemitism that is being witnessed and experienced recently in the greater Austin area is unacceptable and we cannot allow it to continue,” Shalom Austin Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus said. “Our entire community has a shared responsibility to help us turn this around. This cannot become commonplace.”
In a joint email to the community, Rabbi Septimus, Renee Lafair ADL Austin Regional Director Renee Lafair and Shalom Austin Security Director Andy Dooher assured the community they were constantly working to ensure the security of the community and institutions, including ongoing coordination with law enforcement agencies and groups like the Secure Community Network. Appreciation was extended for everyone’s partnership in this critical and unending endeavor.
“On a personal note, it is natural to be emotionally affected after watching the traumatic events unfold yesterday. Even in our relief for the safety of the victims, feelings like fear and anger can linger and disrupt our lives. Your mental health matters. Please take time to take care of yourself and use your support system – it’s okay to ask for help. We know all members of our community were especially affected by yesterday’s events, including educators, leaders and clergy. Let us all reach out to one another, our congregations and leaders to be present in our relief and our exhaustion after witnessing such painful events,” said Septimus.
Authorities were quick to point out how impressed they were by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker’s composure during the terrorist attack. For those who know Rabbi Cytron-Walker, they say it was no surprise as Rabbi Cytron-Walker is the definition of a mensch; he is a true person of integrity, honor, and one of the kindest people a person will ever encounter.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker
“I am thankful and filled with appreciation for
All of the vigils and prayers and love and support,
All of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us,
All of the security training that helped save us.
I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community.
I am grateful that we made it out.
I am grateful to be alive.”
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