LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, from the Chabad of the Bluegrass, rattles off the names of all the attacks on synagogues we've seen in recent months and years.
Since 2018, or less than four years, there have been ten attacks, or attempted attacks, on Jewish houses of worship. Over the weekend, an armed suspect took hostages inside a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Litvin feels this is sadly becoming the norm.
"We have accepted the steps that lead up to (something like) this," Litvin said from his home in Lexington on Monday. "It begins with words of hate. It moves to assemblies of hate. Then it moves to violence."
Litvin said he followed Saturday's hostage situation for almost its entirety, watching with "sadness, pain, and fear," but with very little shock. And he doesn't for one second feel as if this incident was coincidental.
"[The suspect is] someone who went to a radical mosque that called for the death of Jews. [He] came to America and chose a building of Jews in the few hours a week that it's open. This was clearly targeting Jews," he stated.
Rabbi Litvin walked Lexington's Freedom March parade route on Monday morning, even though the event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was canceled due to inclement weather conditions. He did that because of what he believed in and because of what Dr. King believed in too.
"Dr. King recognized it's not about fighting over racism. It's not about where you can sit on the bus. It's about where the bus is going."
Litvin is very fearful of where that bus is headed.
"It's not enough to say, 'I'll speak out against hate.' It's not enough to come together the day of an attack and say, 'I condemn it.' It's coming together the next day and saying, 'how can we build a society and say, hate doesn't have a home?'"
Litvin feels as if the situation in Texas gives us a perfect opportunity to do just that.
"This was a wake-up call where no one died (other than the suspect who was killed). And blood shouldn't have to be spilled for us to say there's a problem."
Rabbi Litvin was happy to hear that the rabbi in Texas threw a chair at the suspect. It was a bold move that gave him and his congregants the small window they needed to get out safely.
"While I greatly admire that action, and it brings a smile to my face, it shouldn't be on a rabbi to have to throw a chair in that situation. There were so many steps that went wrong before then," he added.