State and federal authorities are now investigating shootings at two Jewish facilities in Kansas.
Frazier Cross Jr. is accused of fatally shooting three people Sunday. Witnesses say the 73-year-old was yelling “Heil Hitler” as police arrested him.
The attack in Kansas comes as the Jewish community prepares to celebrate Passover. The most observed holiday in the Jewish faith begins tonight at sundown.
“It really hits close on many levels to us,” says Rabbi Steven Edelman-Blank at Tifereth Israel Synagogue.
Des Moines’ Jewish community shares close ties to the Kansas City area.
“I actually have family in that area, but there is that feeling in the Jewish community that we’re all connected and I think we all feel the pain when things happen,” he says.
“When you have something that scares an entire community like that, a lot of the prayers that need to be said are to reassure people,” says Temple B’Nai Jeshurun Rabbi David Kaufman.
Kaufman says threats tend to rise around Passover.
“There’s always that threat that somebody, sometimes a lone crazy person and sometimes an organized group of people, will try to harm Jews just to harm Jews,” says Kaufman.
This Passover, Des Moines’ Jewish community will send special prayers to Kansas.
“We’re with them, supporting them spiritually and emotionally,” says Kaufman.
“Praying for tolerance and the end of hate,” says Edelman-Blank.
Rabbis say many people think Hanukkah is the biggest Jewish holiday, but it is actually Passover. The ritual tells the story of the exodus from Egypt.