Rabbi Serotta: “Healing will take a long time”
After attending a late-night prayer vigil held Wednesday, July 13, in Highland Park honoring the seven victims and 40 residents wounded admittedly by Robert “Bobby” Crimo, III, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., said the candlelight ceremony was sad and yet another manifestation of hatred of Jews, Blacks, Latinos and Asians.
“The Jewish community is under attack again,” Rev. Jackson said. “It is not new.” Referring to the Fourth of July mass shooting admittedly by Crimo, he said, “This is an ideological idea. He is a young, white male, Christian, who has targeted Blacks, Latinos and people of color.
“The attack on Jews has a deep history and this is another manifestation of it,” Rev. Jackson stated. “This is not a mental disorder. It’s an ideological idea.
“The attack on Jews has a deep history,” Rev. Jackson said. “People of faith must continue to rally together because faith is the only thing they have to keep them together.” He urged them to stand strong and united.
Asked about Crimo dressing like a woman after shooting the parade goers then mingling with the victims who were wounded, dead or running for safety, Rev. Jackson said, “It’s a tactic he used. It’s an ideology. It was the gun that killed them, not the dress.”
During the ceremony, Rabbi Isaac Serotta from the Makom Solel Lakeside Congregation, referred to the deadly Fourth of July mass shooting, “It is too soon to speak of healing when we are still in the depths of mourning, and it is still true tonight. It is hard to speak of healing. It may be true for a long time to come.
“It will be a long time before we can walk these streets or any town without looking to the rooftops. It will be a long time before we can say the name Highland Park to someone who asks us where we come from without getting the reaction of coming from a town known for its gun violence and resulting deaths.
“In this moment we are as the song tells us—walking through the shadow of death. We are still in that shadow remembering those who were murdered, praying for the injured and standing with those traumatized by these horrific moments,” Rabbi Serotta told scores of people holding lit candles.
Complimenting Highland Park residents for “standing strong” and remaining united throughout this healing period, Rabbi Serotta said, “The song says I will fear no evil and now we have our anxieties, we will not give into fear. We go forward with the faith and convictions that the problems that face us are not insoluble” and with hard work “we will see the other side of the valley,” he said.
Rabbi Serotta said each one can be the change agent, do some good and spread kindness. “Each of us can strive to bring some badly [needed] light into our darkened world.”
Saying she is proud of the Highland Park community and Highland Park coming together, Mayor Nancy Rotering said, “The July Fourth mass shooting was the bloodiest stain we have ever experienced in Highland Park caused by a hateful, and cowardly individual who was inspired with an assault weapon during our annual July Fourth home tradition.”
Holding lit candles, the elderly sat in chairs within a semi-circle outside of the Highland Park City Hall, while others stood with their comfort dogs, and some children sat on the grass, heads down, clutching brown comfort Teddy Bears.
Rev. Quincy Worthington, pastor of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church, said their thoughts and prayers do matter. “Let us now take the broken pieces of our heart and put them back together into one giant heart for our community and beyond….”
Worthington prayed for a life when children “who will no longer fear for their safety or run for cover, a life where they will be free to be fully human and not dehumanized into targets, a life when they are fully seen…and not pushed into thinking that terroristic acts of evil are the only resort.”
He said, “Let’s go from here not bitter and angry but in knowing that our dreams and our hopes for a better tomorrow are a certain reality if we work together for them. Let us go from here not thinking that this is over…that this service somehow brings some end.”
Worthington said, “Now our hard work begins for protecting and caring for our sisters and brothers from the avenues of Highland Park to the streets of Englewood, from the shores of Lake Michigan to the banks of the Rio Grande, from the Bean in downtown Chicago to the bead-heads down in Washington, D.C., he said sparking laughter from the audience.
“Now with our legitimate differences threatening to tear us apart, when our universal commonality binds us together that much stronger that we are all precious in the eyes of God, that each life has intrinsic value, that any blood is too sacred to be spilt needlessly on our streets…,” said Worthington.
Rev. Jackson met privately in City Hall with Mayor Rotering and other officials after the ceremony ended