I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the faithful of Emanuel A.M.E. Church on the tragic passing of your pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and your fellow congregants, whose lives were taken from us in such a shocking manner.
I write this letter to you wearing two different hats. The first is of a fellow Charleston native, who grew up in the “Holy City” and who is intimately familiar with the rich history of the Lowcountry. Many of you may actually know my father, Samuel Rosen (“Doctor Sam”), whose Avenue Pharmacy and then Charleston Cut-Rate Drug Stores were fixtures of downtown Charleston for decades before he retired about 10 years ago. My parents still reside in Charleston, and though I have been living elsewhere since shortly after I graduated from Middleton High School in 1989, I still, and will always, consider myself a Charlestonian. My parents have been lifelong members of Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue, located in downtown Charleston, less than one mile from your church.
My second hat is that of the president of my local synagogue, the Young Israel of Great Neck, and additionally as a member of the Great Neck Community Council of Synagogue Presidents, in Great Neck, Long Island, New York, where I live with my wife and four sons. Like Charleston, Great Neck is a community with residents of diverse backgrounds and faiths, and one that prides itself on such diversity.
At our recent meeting, all of the members of the Council expressed our collective horror at the events that befell your congregation last week. While we may not have been able to physically attend the vigils and prayer services in Charleston, as I understand many of the members of the local Jewish community have done, we wished to send a letter to let you know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
We have watched with awe and admiration at the inspiring manner in which you have responded to this tragedy, and we can only hope and pray that your incredible strength during this time of darkness will serve as a lesson to all that prejudice and hate will not deter us from our missions. We stand in solidarity with you and wish you no more sorrow or pain, and hope that you will be able to emerge stronger and unified, with a new sense of purpose.
Eric P. Rosen