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Rabbis focus on the positive despite museum shooting

Goodness and light in the face of evil deeds such as this week's shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., will be the focus of messages at Shabbat services across Long Island this weekend.

Rabbis of all movements within Judaism plan to stress themes of hope and strength in their sermons tomorrow morning - the first Jewish Sabbath since the shooting at the Holocaust museum, which killed a security guard.

"We answer with light, we answer with positive," said Rabbi Leib Baumgarten of Chabad Lubavitch of the Hamptons. "Our way of doing things is to tell the world that we're not going to fall and do the same things that they did - murdering and killing."

Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum of Temple Israel of Lawrence said the shooting is a sobering reminder of the violence of anti-Semitism.

"But fighting against anti-Semitism involves more than better security systems," Rosenbaum said. Instead, he said, more Jews should show their dedication to Judaism through attending synagogue. "It's a message to those who would destroy us that we are strong and that we are here, and that we will answer them and defeat them."

Rabbi Abraham Garmaize of the North Baldwin Jewish Center, whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust, said he plans on using his Shabbat sermon to emphasize the need for good deeds.

"We have to be of this part of the world where we can [make] a better world," Garmaize said. "That's the most important. And it's not easy. Today we are in the lowest of the lowest time."

Several synagogues will express their appreciation for Stephen T. Johns, the security guard slain in Wednesday's shooting.

Johns was black, and James von Brunn, who police say was the shooter, was a white supremacist who wrote extensively about his anti-Semitic beliefs. He was critically injured.

"There's hatred for Jews and hatred for blacks, and any kind of hatred begins with one but always comes around to the other," Rabbi Alan Levin said.

Congregants at Congregation Beth Sholom Chabad in Mineola will be invited to write letters of appreciation to Johns' family after Shabbat ends, Rabbi Anchelle Perl said.

"What he did will not be forgotten by us and the entire community," Perl said.


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