Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shooting at Adat Yeshurun Sephardic Congregation

**Latest Update**

Synagogue shooting victim recovering from surgery
October 29, 2009 | 10:56 am

At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one of the men shot at the North Hollywood synagogue, Maor Ben-Nissan, 37, is recovering from surgery.

His relatives and friends are gathered at the hospital, drinking coffee and hovering around the TV, watching live coverage from the synagogue.

Ben-Nissan lives in North Hollywood with his wife, Anat, and 2-year-old son. He owns a tile store and is very devout, going to Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue every morning, friends said. He is an Israeli immigrant who came to the United States as a child.

"I haven't seen my husband yet," said Anat, whose eyes were red.

His brother-in-law, who did not want to give his name, said he arrived at the synagogue a few minutes before Maor and was inside when the shooting occurred. He heard four shots. "We panicked and ran," the brother-in-law said.

As he went out, he saw Maor hobbling up the stairs and saw the blood on his leg and on the stairs.

"He called my name. I ran to him," the brother-in-law said.

He called 911. He also put a pillow under Ben-Nissan's head and wrapped a sweater around his leg to try to stop the bleeding. "I was just trying to calm him down," he said.

"Hate crimes are alive. People have to be careful," the brother-in-law said. "It was a miracle it was nothing worse."

-- Anna Gorman in Mission Hills



I have been to Adat Yeshurun Sephardic Congregation, and I have met, talked to, and my children had the opportunity to sit with Rabbi Amram Gabbai for a short while.

It is not a really obvious synagogue building, it is not easy to find if you don’t know where it is, and the parking garage is not that large or that obvious. I would have to say that someone specifically targeted the synagogue, or they were from the local neighborhood and knew that it was there.

I am on the side of “specifically targeted,” because most people would not know when people would be arriving for morning minyan unless they really went out of their way to find out. I think whomever did this, had been observing the synagogue for a while and knew when people came and went.


Here is the story from A7, JTA, and the LA Times:

Gunman Wounds Two in Los Angeles Synagogue
by Ernie Singer


Los Angeles police say two Jewish men in their 30s were shot in the legs as they were about to enter a synagogue in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles Thursday morning. A man described as an African-American with a handgun entered the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue at about 6:20 a.m. Thursday and opened fire. The victims were taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Police are investigating the shooting as a hate crime. The Los Angeles Times says police arrested a man near the synagogue, but the sources say they don't believe he was the gunman.

The newspaper adds that police officials have alerted other synagogues around Los Angeles about the shooting, and police have stepped up patrols at Jewish religious institutions. Detectives are trying to determine if the gunman acted alone or as part of a larger group.

According to the Associated Press, the wounded people had just pulled into the synagogue parking structure for morning services. Investigators said no words were exchanged between the shooter and his victims.

"Grave and shocking"
Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein called the event “grave and shocking.”

The attack “reminds us that anti-Semitism is alive and kicking and has no hesitation in terrorizing the Jewish people's holy of holies. We and the nations of the world must continue to fight anti-Semitism as it has already been proven that what starts with the Jews ends with other nations as well.”

The attack occurred about 16 km. away from a Jewish community center where, ten years ago, white supremacist Buford Furrow shot and wounded five people and later killed a letter carrier. Three children were among the wounded in that attack.

Two shot at California synagogue

October 29, 2009

(JTA) -- Two people were shot in the legs in the parking lot of a synagogue in North Hollywood, Calif.

Los Angeles Police said the African-American suspect approached a man entering the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Synagogue for morning prayers at approximately 6:20 a.m. Thursday, according to media reports. The assailant shot that man in the leg with a handgun, then fired again and hit another man in the garage. The synagogue is located in the San Fernando Valley's Orthodox community.

The victims, both Jewish, were reported to be in stable condition after being transported to a local hospital.

A man was detained near the facility shortly after the shooting, but police now say they don't believe he was involved in the crime.

Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, and the Los Angeles Police Department has stepped up patrols around city Jewish institutions. The Secure Community Network, the national network coordinating security for the Jewish community, said it was urging Jewish institutions to remain vigilant and revisit the security procedures they have in place until more information about the incident is known.

LA Times:
Police search for gunman in North Hollywood synagogue shooting [Updated]
October 29, 2009 | 10:03 am


A gunman entered the grounds of a North Hollywood synagogue this morning and shot and wounded two men who were going to a prayer service in an attack LAPD detectives are investigating as a hate crime.

The unidentified gunman wearing a black hoodie walked into the underground parking garage of Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue at 12405 Sylvan St. shortly before 6:20 a.m., said LAPD Deputy Chief Michel Moore. He approached a man in his 40s who was parking his car to attend prayer service.

"Without any words," Moore said, the suspect shot the man in the leg. He then fired at a second man in his 40s who had also arrived for prayers. The second victim was also wounded in the leg. The gunman then fled from the garage. Witnesses called 911.

Moore said both victims were in good condition at local hospitals.

Detectives are "working with [the victims] to understand more information," Moore said. They do not believe the motive was robbery, according to LAPD sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition they not be named because the investigation is ongoing.

[Updated at 10:20 a.m.: Speaking to reporters outside the taped-off synagogue, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the incident "a senseless act of violence." The mayor was careful to temper worries that the shooting was a hate crime.

"None of us should presume or speculate more about this other than it was a random act of violence.

But Shawyn Yaghoubi, 18, of Encino, who was dropping off his younger brother at a nearby school when he heard about the shooting, said: “Of course it was a hate crime.”

“They [police] have to do something about it," he said.]

Los Angeles police arrested a man about an hour later near the synagogue, but sources said they do not believe he was the gunman. LAPD officials have alerted other synagogues around Los Angeles about the shooting, and police have stepped up patrols at Jewish religious institutions.

Adat Yeshurun is in the heart of the San Fernando Valley's Orthodox Jewish community and within walking distance of kosher markets and other synagogues. Many people move to the area so they could walk to temple.

The sources said detectives are trying to determine the motive, and whether the gunman acted alone or as part of a larger group. LAPD detectives were reviewing security videotapes from the temple in hopes of better understanding the chain of events.

They were also searching a nearby park to see if the suspect is hiding there.

Yehuda Oz, 53, a man of Tunisian descent, has attended the Sephardic Jewish temple for the last 15 years. He arrived early this morning to begin his regular morning prayers. [Updated at 10:10 a.m.: In a previous version of this post, Oz had declined to give his last name.]

About an hour later, as he prayed with some 15 others in the temple's quiet sanctuary, four gunshots broke the silence, he said.

He said he heard screams from the parking lot, then saw two men stumble into the temple.

Their blood spread over the floor as people rushed to stop the bleeding, Yehuda said, but no one inside saw the shooter.

"Maybe it was crazy person. Maybe he was drugged up. Maybe it was a Jew. We don't know," Yehuda said, nervously adjusting his yarmulke as he stood outside the taped-off scene with two friends.

Yehuda said the two men who were shot were latecomers who had just parked their cars.

The temple, which has a congregation of mostly Moroccan and other North African Jews, installed security cameras years ago to discourage attacks, Yehuda said.

"This is a good place," he said.

[Updated at 10:20 a.m.: A girls' school at the synagogue with 112 students canceled classes today. At least two rabbis from neighboring synagogues who were at the scene this morning said they were counseling their own congregants to stay calm.

“The feeling is that we’ve got to keep our eyes open for each other,” said Rabbi Nachman Nabend, from Chabad of North Hollywood. “It makes me angry when anyone gets targeted.”

Adat Ari El, the fourth largest conservative synagogue in L.A. with a 750-family congregation, is about two miles away from Adat Yeshurun. Joanne Klein, executive director at Adat Ari El, said there are more LAPD patrol cars in the area and her synagogue is ramping upt its own security by closing multiple entrances and adding additional security guards.

“We’re watchful,” said Klein. “We’re taking extra precautions and we’re paying attention to what’s going on in the community. We’re still open for business.”]

-- Duke Helfand, Anna Gorman, Andrew Blankstein and Robert Faturechi in North Hollywood; and Richard Winton

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