Beth Israel rabbi believed among the hostages known for his interfaith work
Congregation Beth Israel Charlie Cytron-Walker is believed to be among the hostages at his synagogue in in Colleyville, Texas where the crisis enters its tenth hour.
Anna Salton Eisen, a founder and former president of the synagogue says Cytron-Walker has worked hard to build interfaith relationships in the community, including doing pulpit swaps and participating in a community peace walk. She described Saturday’s events as “surreal.”
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. You know, it’s a small town and it’s a small congregation,” Eisen says. “No matter how it turns out it’s hard to fathom how we will all be changed by this, because surely we will be.”
Cytron-Walker was with the community three and a half years ago during the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh.
The following are remarks he gave at a community vigil hosted at Beth Israel the day after the shooting.
“When I heard about the deadly attack in the middle of our Sabbath service, the feeling was all too familiar. The emptiness and the pain, the anger and the helplessness. I have mourned the loss of Sikhs and Muslims, Baha’is and Christians. I’ve mourned for children and dancers and concert goers, black men, women and children, police officers, and first responders. I’ve mourned the loss of people of every background killed in senseless and needless violence based on prejudice and ignorance and hatred. I’ve mourned for so many Jews, including the eleven worlds destroyed on Saturday morning. I’m not alone. We all have mourned. We all are mourning.”
“As we mourn – we look around tonight at a truly diverse and overwhelming number of our neighbors who have come together (approx. 400 people, with over 25 community leaders beside me). All the love and support matters. The flowers and notes and texts and emails and calls – your presence – they all help us feel like we are not so alone. Too many times in Jewish history we faced tragedy without love or support. Too many times to count, we were left to pick up the pieces of tragedy and destruction. Believe me. The love and support matters. It is something that we all should be able to expect of each other. Thank you for helping us through these dark times. Thank you for standing together.”