By Sharon Wisch-Ray
The North Texas Jewish community mobilized quickly as the hostage crisis events unfolded Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel.
“Everyone was on their A-plus game,” said Cheryl Drazin, ADL Central Division vice president.
Drazin was not only refrencing law enforcement, a couple of hundred of which were using the Colleyville Middle School as its staging area, but also the Jewish community leadership who had gathered at the Good Shepherd Catholic Community about a little less than a mile from the synagogue.
Drazin described a Jewish community command post which was set up inside the church’s main office. Joining her, were Bill Humphrey of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Community Security Initiative, Howard Rosenthal from the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, who is also a Beth Israel member; Livia Link-Raviv, consul general of Israel to the Southwest; and Sherry Goldberg, CSI chair and Kenny Goldberg, who was recently appointed by Governor Abbot to the Texas Holcoaust, Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission.
“Thank you to my friends at Good Shepherd Catholic Community and so many people who came out and supported us this past Saturday. I want to thank everyone in law enforcement, and so many first responders who were there for us in our time of need. Thank you to the Peace Together and interfaith community; all clergy, our religious and atheist leaders who offered prayers and love. Thank you to political leaders of all parties are joining us tonight, who’ve been supporting us throughout the past few days. I want to thank everyone in our community and throughout the world who has been with us on this journey all of the well wishes and kindness and compassion, so many people reaching out… Thank you for all of the compassion, from the bottom of my heart.Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker at the Jan. 17 Healing Service
Anita Zussman Eddy, executive director of the JFGD’s Jewish Community Relation’s Council to Tarrant County’s Federation executive director Barry Abels with dealing with the media.
“We had a lot of boots on the ground,” said Abels.
Zussman Eddy said that the JCRC had received messages of support and prayer from across the country including the White House, federal and local official and the government of Israel.
“We received so many messages from Jewish and non Jewish individuals and organizations… the North Texas Jewish community was supported by so many national and international individuals and organizations, including many of faith, Catholics, Muslims, evangelicals and Christians of all denominations in the aftermath of the horrific incident,” Zusman Eddy said.
For many Shabbat observant members of the community, they didn’t learn of the crisis until Saturday evening. Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky of Congregation Shaare Tefilla, quickly organized a virtual recitation of Tehillim (Psalms) attended by more than 200 people.
“We have a text, we have a place to turn, whenever we are afraid whenever we are nervous whenever something is happening that is seemingly beyond our control. And that is of course the power of T’hillem the power of prayer,” said Rackovsky.
He added, “the other thing that we take comfort in is the beauty of community. The beauty of joining together in prayer in solidarity with our friends with our Jewish brothers and sisters and anybody who is of good faith that joins us.”
In addition to members of the Dallas Jewish community, there were people from across the United States and Israel who joined the prayer service.
Prayers were answered when the ordeal came to an end shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday with all the hostages physically unharmed.
Abels said Jewish Family Services will be available to provide crisis counseling at both its Fort Worth and Colleyville//North Tarrant County offices.
On Monday evening, steps forward began when Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker led a powerful Healing Service hosted by White’s Chapel United Methodist Church.
“How amazing is it for us to know that we have the support of the broader community … our small congregation in Colleyville, Texas which no one has ever heard of before, but we know how special it is. and our broader community and that our broader world desperately wants to support us on this journey. It will take time, but slowly together we will all heal.”