By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
As many of you know, countless news outlets reported that a lone gunman opened fire upon both the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City (JCC) and the Village Shalom retirement home in my hometown of Overland Park, KS.
According to multiple sources at NBC News, USA Today and Yahoo News, the gunman, 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross of Aurora, Mo., fired multiple shots outside of the JCC Parking lot and killed a 69-year-old retired doctor William Lewis Corporon and his grandson, 14-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood, who was auditioning for KC SuperStar.
Despite causing the carnage, which forced the JCC into a lock-down…the assassin was not done yet. The former “Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan” drove to Village Shalom and shot an unidentified woman.
This act sickened me to my stomach!
I have been a life-long member of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City.
From the moment I was two-years-old, my parents enrolled me in their Child Development Center program. After three years of their programming, I graduated and entered the Blue Valley School District for my formative education. But I did not leave the JCC, I returned for 10 years of their summer camps. I have fond memories of attending both Barney Goodman Camp and Ma’Asim Tovim.
The Center has also been a huge focal point of where I spent the last 10 years of my life. I attended BBYO chapter sessions with multiple chapters including Hatikvah, Sinai and Two’s and Hebrew High in high school. I worked as a summer intern with the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City’s Learning for Life program. Three years later, I returned to the non-profit as their Social Media Associate and worked closely with Jane Blumenthal Martin and Nancy Shniderman on rebuilding their social media presence.
More importantly, the JCC was also the place I began to learn how to get into shape. I was one of the founding members of Meshugge CrossFit. Under the watchful eyes of Brady Mora, Angela Schaffer and Mike Hicks, I began to get myself into shape and did things I never have imagined completing when I was in middle or high school (jump rope and pull-ups).
While I left Meshugge to re-join Brady at his box, CrossFit 913, I always make a point and walk on the upstairs track every Sunday morning. I was there last Sunday before the incident and everything seemed normal. Once, I started to check Facebook at 1:30 p.m., I was saddened and shocked by this act of violence and asked myself: “Why would anyone do such a horrible thing?”
Mr. Cross’s attacks on the Kansas City Jewish community may have left our hearts aching, but we will go stronger as we stand together! This Friday, there will be two tributes at two separate locations: The Do Jewish Movement (at the Church of the Resurrection) and the Candle Light Vigil at the Jewish Community Center.
For more information about these events, visit their pages on Facebook.
In honor of the JCC staff members and the victims’ families, I would like to dedicate both Chris Mann’s performance of “You Raise Me Up” and Joshua Ledet’s cover of “You Pulled Me Through” to them for your acts of courage, kindness and love.