LIVINGSTON, NJ — Jewish leaders across the state are examining security measures and closely following the investigation in Tuesday’s deadly shootout at a kosher supermarket in the Greenville neighborhood of Jersey City.
“My colleague, Rabbi David Vaisberg, sent a note to the congregation last night,” said Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz of B'nai Abraham in Livingston. “He encouraged everyone to join us for pre-Hanukkah services tomorrow night and celebrate being Jewish.”
Rabbi Dantowitz expressed her hope that Tuesday’s events would not be quickly forgotten by local communities.
“It is important that we do not become numb to the ongoing gun violence and rising acts of hatred and anti-Semitism,” Dantowitz said. “We stand together with our neighbors in Jersey City recognizing that every human being is created B’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image.
“In the Jewish tradition, we are taught that to destroy a single life is to destroy the whole world. We mourn the death of innocent victims and call on all to stand up against hate. We stand together in love as we are taught to love your neighbor as yourself.
“Chanukah is approaching, and we will light the Chanukah menorah as we celebrate the miracle of one cruse of oil, enough for one day, lasting eight days. We rededicate ourselves to having the courage to ignite the light of love and compassion and with each light, kindle more light.”
Dantowitz added that she was on a zoom call with Rabbi Leana Moritt of Temple Beth El in Jersey City when she discovered the violence unfolding.
As details about the attack in Jersey City emerged Wednesday, the Jewish community was paying close attention. Six people had been killed in all in the attack, five of them inside JC Kosher Supermarket on Martin Luther King Drive; two were the suspected gunmen, NorthJersey.com reported.
Two additional officers were hit by gunfire but had been released from Jersey City Medical Center by Wednesday afternoon, the report said. Seals died during an encounter with the gunmen, according to the report.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that investigators believed anti-Semitic and anti-police sentiments seen in one of the suspects’ social media posts motivated the attack.
"We are following the incident from [Tuesday] with great concern,” said Dov Ben-Shimon, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. “We are deeply grateful for our local law enforcement, and we mourn the loss of Officer Seals.
“We welcome the investigation currently underway by the attorney general and other law enforcement branches and, together with our partners in the Jewish federation of northern New Jersey, we will continue our efforts to coordinate for the safety and security of the Jewish community in collaboration with local law enforcement."
Police departments from across the state also posted statements to social media in solidarity with the victims, including the Livingston Police Department, which posted a message stating that their "thoughts and prayers go out to the Jersey City Police Department" and a second message to community members warning of false fundraising pages being set up in support of the fallen officer's family.
"We are sending this message in an effort to protect our residents from a scam and deception occurring all over the state tonight," the post reads. "Fraudulent GoFundMe accounts have been set up to profit from the murder of Detective Joseph Seals of the Jersey City Police Department. Earlier today, the Jersey City Police Department set up the one and only OFFICIAL account."
The department also shared a link to the official GoFundMe page, which can be found by CLICKING HERE.
Seals, 39, is survived by his wife and five children and was a 15-year member of the Jersey City Police Department’s Ceasefire Unit.
Three civilians were also killed during Tuesday's attack, and two other police officers were injured.