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Messages of solidarity, condolences received from near and far

Compiled by Chronicle Staff

Dignataries from across the country and all over the globe — Jewish and non-Jewish — sent messages to the Kansas City community Sunday night and Monday. 

President Obama issued this statement Sunday night following the shootings:

“This afternoon we heard reports of a horrific shooting in Overland Park, Kan. Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends who lost a loved one and everyone affected by this tragedy. I have asked my team to stay in close touch with our federal, state and local partners and provide the necessary resources to support the ongoing investigation. While we do not know all of the details surrounding today’s shooting, the initial reports are heartbreaking. I want to offer my condolences to all the families trying to make sense of this difficult situation and pledge the full support from the federal government as we heal and cope during this trying time,” JTA reports.

JTA also reported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released this statement Monday morning.

“We condemn the murder that by all the signs was done out of hatred of Jews,” he said. “The State of Israel, as one with all civilized people, is obligated to struggle against this blight.”

The Anti-Defamation League in a statement issued late Sunday called the shootings “an unspeakable and heinous act of violence.”

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback contacted BIAV’s Rabbi Daniel Rockoff, and possibly other area rabbis, with a message of support.

“(He sends) his best wishes to our community and wanted to assure us that he will make sure that necessary security measures are taken care of in the time ahead,” Rabbi Rockoff said.

Rabbi Rockoff said the outpouring of support he and others in the community have received both locally and from around the world has been staggering and heartwarming.

“I am sure everyone received many calls of concern from friends and family, and even strangers who know you live here. I received messages from national organizations looking to help, students who have spent time in our community and even from some of the Israeli businessmen who frequent Overland Park,” he said.

Before authorities had determined the attacks were a hate crime, the ADL said in its statement that it is working with local, federal and state law enforcement officials as the investigation continues.

“The attacks on the Jewish community centers in Overland Park are a cowardly, unspeakable and heinous act of violence,” Karen Aroesty, ADL’s St. Louis regional director, said in a statement. “While it is too early to label these shootings as a hate crime, the fact that two Jewish institutions were targeted by the same individual just prior to the start of the Passover holiday is deeply troubling and certainly gives us pause.”

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said his organization “join(s) in solidarity with the entire Kansas City area community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in expressing shock, sadness and dismay. We can’t help but note that this attack comes on the eve of Passover, a celebration of Jewish freedom from oppression and violence.”

The European Jewish Congress warned in a statement issued early Monday that the shootings in Kansas “demonstrates that neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are becoming emboldened” and called on the international community to work together to fight against hate and anti-Semitism.

“We stand with our brothers and sisters in the U.S. at this difficult time and stand ready to assist in fighting this scourge together because hate knows no boundaries, especially in the age of the Internet,” EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said in the statement.

Kantor called for the creation of an international task force “that will fight hate through educational, legislative and punitive platforms on a worldwide scale.”

Dvir Kahana, CEO of the Ministry for Jerusalem & Diaspora Affairs said, “It is hard to imagine in this day and age that there is still such extreme hatred of Jews which lead to these appalling murders. I am confident the local authorities will do everything in their power to both punish the killer and fight this phenomenon. We send our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and our thoughts go out to the Jewish community in Kansas City. On this Passover eve, Jews in Israel and across the globe are united in condemning this horrific act of violence.”  

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs expressed its heartbreak at the murders and solidarity with the family of the victims and the entire community.

“On behalf of our 140 local and national member organizations, we are deeply saddened and upset by this heart rending attack. Any loss of life is a tragedy, but the pain is deepened by the shooter’s apparently hate-filled motives that have no place in our society. We stand in solidarity with the entire Kansas City community as we learn more and begin the process of mourning and recovery,” said JCPA Chair Susan W. Turnbull and JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.

JCPA Vice President Andi Milens, who is in her hometown of Kansas City for the holiday of Passover, said, “This is a closely knit Jewish community that is part of a caring and supportive general community. But sadly, my hometown of Kansas City will now add its name to the long and growing list of communities to know the pain of senseless gun violence. Even as we mourn this tragedy, we gather for Passover. We celebrate our freedom from slavery, but we also note that we are not free from the scourge of gun violence. We must rededicate ourselves to the passage of sensible gun violence legislation. And in the meantime, our institutions must remain vigilant. There is no such thing as ‘it won’t happen here.’ “

JTA also contributed to this article.