SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Local synagogues remain vigilant and strong in the face of the Pittsburgh shooting massacre as they reflect on hate crimes here in the past.
Back in 1999 Congregation B’Nai Israel and two other local synagogues were firebombed causing major damage. And just last year Temple O’Rishon in Orangevale was plastered with anti-Semitic signs and posters.
“Even that was such a violation and it was scary,” said Kimberly Olker, President of Temple Or’Rishon.
Olker was attending a Bat Mitzvah at another synagogue Saturday when word came down that a gunman had stormed the Tree of Life synagogue near Pittsburgh, killing 11 people.
“I was there feeling safe until I heard this news. And then every time I heard the door open, I questioned the safety of all of us that were there” she said.
Olker has a personal connection to the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh. Growing up in the Midwest, she would often visit the congregation for youth events.
“There are very special memories at that congregation for me,” Olker said.
As for her own congregation, she says healing took time after they were targeted last year.
“We made sure we did everything procedurally we could to ensure the safety of our congregation, but a lot of times it took more conversation. People wanted to talk about it” she said.
Olker says she’s saddened by what appears to be an increase in hate crimes the past few years, but she’s determined to stay strong.
“We can’t let that scare us away from being a community. It’s so important that we still come together” Olker said.