The U.S. State Department have informed Israel’s Foreign Ministry that Jewish victims are among those hurt in the developing tragedy in Highland Park, Illinois, in which a suspect opened fire on a July 4th parade, killing at least 6 people and injuring two dozen others.
Details over who the victims are remain sparse, though it is confirmed that there are at least 2 Jewish victims among the deceased casualties.
A group of 4 Lubavitcher bochurim who were running a tefillin stand at the parade escaped unharmed after bullets began flying. The bochurim, who were there to place tefillin on parade-goers, managed to get to the nearby Chabad house before moving safely to a residence. They are currently remaining indoors upon police recommendations.
A message sent to the Lubavitcher community from Rabbi Sholom Ber Halberstam stated that the bochurim were two blocks from where the shooting took place, and all are now in a safe location.
Michla Schanowitz, co-director of North Suburban Lubavitch Chabad Central Avenue Synagogue, was outside her Chabad center at the heart of the parade’s route, just four blocks away from the shooting, when she saw crowds running toward her.
Chabad had a table set up outside the center offering passersby a chance to put on tefillin or take a Shabbat candle kit, manned by four young rabbinical students from Chabad’s Yeshivas Ohr Eliyahu Lubavitch Mesivta of Chicago.
“The parade had barely started. All of a sudden, I see everyone running towards us,” Schanowitz describes. She began rushing people to safety inside her Chabad center immediately. “Come inside, it’s a synagogue,” she shouted to the stunned passersby.
Schanowitz reports that her student volunteers are all safe and accounted for.
The parade annually has a strong Jewish presence, with Chabad running a float complete with a giant menorah and providing other Jewish experiences for participants.
The scene is still considered active, and a massive police response is ongoing to bring the shooter into custody. The suspect has been described as a white male between the ages of 18 and 20, with longer black hair and a slight build.
Brothers, don’t let the pure Jewish blood be spilled by hands of filth around the world for no reason. Defend your fellow mate everywhere. Today, anti-Semitism is at its highest level in the world.