The scene of a mass shooting at a July 4 parade in downtown Highland Park, Illinois

Number of Jewish casualties in Highland Park mass shooting rises to four

Three days after these horrific scenes, the Chicago suburb learned that at least four of seven victims in shooting spree were members of its sizeable Jewish community

Pilissa Cramer/JTA |
Published: 07.06.22, 18:04
Catherine Goldstein, Irena McCarthy, Jacki Sundheim and Stephen Straus are four of the seven victims of the July 4 parade mass shooting in Illinois.
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  • Three days after these horrific scenes, the Chicago suburb learned that at least four of them were members of its sizeable Jewish community.
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    זירה של ירי המוני ב מהלך מצעד חגיגות יום העצמאות של ארה"ב ב 4 ביולי ב היילנד פארק פרבר של שיקגו ב אילינוי
    זירה של ירי המוני ב מהלך מצעד חגיגות יום העצמאות של ארה"ב ב 4 ביולי ב היילנד פארק פרבר של שיקגו ב אילינוי
    The scene of a mass shooting at a July 4 parade in downtown Highland Park, Illinois
    (Photo: AP)
    At least a third of the 30,000 residents in the suburb along Lake Michigan about 25 miles north of Chicago are Jewish, according to some estimates, and they include many Israelis.
    A klezmer band was playing when a shooting interrupted a Fourth of July parade in a suburb of Chicago Monday, killing at least six people and sending dozens more to local hospitals.
    A congregant and staff member of a local synagogue was among those murdered, the synagogue announced Monday night.
    The mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, one of the most heavily Jewish suburbs in the Chicago area, is at least the 300th in the United States this year. Eight hours after the shooting, law enforcement authorities said they had arrested a person of interest, a 21-year-old Highland Park native named Robert “Bobby” Crimo who they believed had fired from the roof of a building overlooking the parade route.
    The authorities said five people, all adults, died at the scene and one died at an area hospital, and hospital officials said they had treated children among the injured.
    “There is information about Jewish casualties,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told its staff, adding that its Chicago-based consul general, Yinam Cohen, was in touch with both authorities and local Jewish communities.
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    ארה"ב טבח היילנד פארק ליד שיקגו אילינוי הרוגה יהודייה ג'קי סנדהיים עובדת בית כנסת
    ארה"ב טבח היילנד פארק ליד שיקגו אילינוי הרוגה יהודייה ג'קי סנדהיים עובדת בית כנסת
    Jacki Sundheim
    On Monday night, North Shore Congregation Israel in neighboring Glencoe announced that a congregant who also worked on the synagogue’s staff was among the victims. Jacki Sundheim was the Reform synagogue’s events and b’nei mitzvah coordinator, according to its website. Earlier in the day, synagogue leaders had posted a message about the shooting, saying, “This touches each of us deeply and personally; the grief, pain, and fear affect us all.”
    Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, posted a video showing the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, Chicago’s preeminent Jewish music group, playing in the parade as bystanders scatter and scream. Sweet subsequently posted a picture showing bloodied bodies lying on the sidewalk.
    Reports from Jewish attendees and town residents began emerging shortly after the shooting, even as the area remained under lockdown while authorities searched for the shooter.
    Jeff Leon, a Jewish lawyer whose twin 14-year-old sons were marching in the parade with the high school football team, described scrambling behind cars to shield himself from bullets and said he had passed someone who was bleeding from the head. He speculated that the attack was antisemitic in nature.
    “Probably half the people who live in Highland Park are Jewish,” Leon said. “And that just can’t be a coincidence.”
    An Indiana-based Chabad rabbi said on Twitter that his teenage son had been less than a block from the shooting helping Jewish attendees don tefillin, phylacteries used in prayer, when the shooting began. “He just called to say that he’s safe, BH,” Eleazar Zalmanov posted, using an abbreviation that means “thank God.”
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    זירה של ירי המוני ב מהלך מצעד חגיגות יום העצמאות של ארה"ב ב 4 ביולי ב היילנד פארק פרבר של שיקגו ב אילינוי
    זירה של ירי המוני ב מהלך מצעד חגיגות יום העצמאות של ארה"ב ב 4 ביולי ב היילנד פארק פרבר של שיקגו ב אילינוי
    Police pour into mass shooting scene at July 4 parade in downtown Highland Park, Illinois
    (Photo: AP)
    Highland Park’s annual Independence Day parade attracts many families to the suburb’s compact downtown. It was preceded by a children’s and pet parade and would have been followed by a festival featuring carnival games, live music and fireworks, according to the town’s website.
    Tomer Mizrahi had anticipated a hectic day at Mizrahi Grill, the kosher restaurant that he and his brother, Eli, opened in Highland Park a decade ago. Instead, he spent most of the workday with his staff behind closed doors, gleaning details off of news outlets and WhatsApp groups on the deadly shooting that happened about two miles from the restaurant.
    “The streets are empty, everybody’s staying inside. I guess it’s because the shooter’s still at large,” said Mizrahi, who has been living in the United States since 2000 and in Highland Park since 2012. At around 2pm his time, Mizrahi and the staff were packing up and getting ready to leave.
    As citizen of Israel who has lived in that country during terrorist attacks, the atmosphere on the street in Highland Park right now “is not particularly scary. But it’s very unpleasant. We used to think this was a safe place. And that feeling of safety is now gone,” Mizrahi said.
    “What happens in one neighborhood affects our entire community,” the Jewish United Fund of Chicago, the city’s federation, posted on Instagram, adding that it “stands ready” to deliver support to those in need in the wake of the shooting.
    The Highland Park shooting comes less than two months after a pair of deadly mass shootings that stood out even among the constant toll of shooting deaths in the United States. On May 14, a shooter who said he was motivated by antisemitic and racist ideologies killed 10 Black people in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. Ten days later, an 18-year-old man murdered 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
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