Community Strong

“I can’t live one way in town and another way at home.” 

-Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird


Less than 24 hours ago, my family and I were sitting in the beautiful Lewis and Shirley White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City enjoying its stunning production of Harper Lee’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  It was a full house – completely sold out.  As my mother-in-law so aptly stated, “Lots of important messages in this play.”  Indeed.  The juxtaposition of racism vs. tolerance, violence vs. peace, ignorance vs. understanding is palpable throughout the show.

While the facts are still murky, today shortly after 1pm Central time, the Overland Park Police Department received word of a shooting in the parking lot just outside the White Theatre.  At least two people were killed.  Minutes later, at Village Shalom, a senior retirement and assisted living facility a few blocks away, another person was murdered, apparently by the same gunman.  The suspected shooter was apprehended down the street at an elementary school apparently shouting anti-Semitic remarks as he was handcuffed and placed in the Police cruiser.

I learned about the tragic events when my Aunt Debby called to make sure everyone in my home was safe – she knows how much time we spend both at the Center and at Village Shalom.  That’s when the phone tree began… calling to confirm my parents, my brother and his family, my grandparents, my in-laws, my friends, etc. were all OK.  Thankfully, my extended family was fully accounted for and safe; to my knowledge, my friends and their families are, too.

But several people are not.  Victims and survivors alike whose lives will never be the same.  We don’t know who they are, yet, but, no matter, they are all our family today.

That this happened in my community has me shocked and befuddled.  I sit on the Boards of Directors of both the JCC and Village Shalom and love these organizations.  My people.  Our people.  Jewish, non-Jewish, black, white, man, woman, in Kansas City, in Boston, in any other Community.  Doesn’t much matter.  We cannot accept these events.  We cannot accept hatred in our midst.

Interestingly, it was about a year ago the Boston bombings took place, when, similarly, hatred and violence impacted lives the world ‘round.  And, tomorrow begins the Jewish holiday of Passover, a time to retell the story of the Jews escaping persecution and slavery in Egypt. 

We are, all of us, deeply saddened, hearts heavy, and very confused.  Let’s each take this time to extend a hand, to share a few words of comfort, to let others know how much we care.  Let’s lean on one another.  Let’s be there for one another.  Today and every day.  Let’s each strive to be the very best person we can be – whether at home, at work or in the Community.  The way we live our lives every day – whether on a normal, run-of-the-mill occasion or when something out of the ordinary occurs.

Sending positive, warm thoughts of peace and healing to all persons impacted by today’s tragedy.  Sending expressions of gratitude and appreciation to the leadership and staff of the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom and to local and federal law enforcement for their quick action, professionalism and perseverance.  Grateful to friends and family from near and far who touched base by phone, email and social media this afternoon to ensure my family and I were all OK.  And, special thanks to my Daddy Max Muller who calmed me down, told me to take a few deep breaths and reminded me I could be of no assistance to anyone if I lost my wits when I learned of the violence that touched our Community.  I am most grateful.

11 thoughts to “Community Strong”

  1. Alana,
    Rachel called her father today while we were shopping At a local farmer’s market. when we got home; it was all over our news here In PS.
    Facebook actually kept us most informed, as everyone has been sharing as quickly as news became available.
    My first And best thought is to pray for, not only The immediate victims, but also The entire community ay large.
    Thank You for this article, as it is extremely important to remember that all of us are vulnerable to crazy And senseless violance.
    My thoughts And prayers for your family And us ALL as a family On this universal Holy Week.
    This will be remembered At all Passover And Easter week tables, In prayer.

    1. Jhon —
      Thank you so much for your note and kind words. So nice to hear from you, even under these difficult circumstances. We were just thinking about you and David and the lovely seders spent in your home. Thinking of you at this time and wishing you all the best. Fondly, — Alana

    2. Alana, you are so true in your words. The society we live is polluted with hatred and bad acts, and the old saying..when bad things happen to good people clearly applies here. My Parents were working the JCC Food pantry and left to meet Me for lunch about 45 minutes before this tragic event. I have searched my heart on the who, what, where and why of yesterdays horrible events….not the way I wanted to start my Passover….great note old friend glad the Family is safe

      1. Micah – Thank you for your nice note. Grateful our Community is responding to this violent act with such love and compassion. Wishing you and your family an especially meaningful Passover.

  2. Ms. Muller, I live in Olathe and your post showed up in my Facebook newsfeed through a friend. (I read your profile, and ironically, I was on FB procrastinating on an assignment for my FastTrac business plan class at JCCC!)

    Thank you for your lovely words. I pray for strength for those affected by these acts today, and for the rest of us who live in a world where these things seem to keep happening.

    1. Cindy,
      Thank you so much for your nice message. It’s so important for our Community to show more solidarity than ever when horrific events like this take place. Your caring and concern is so appreciated.

  3. My daily J exercising and Village Shalom, where I volunteer weekly, are two special places for me. My daughter sent me your post. Kansas and Missouri have made gun possession easier in our states and open carry rights are being forced down our more sensibly-minded cities’ throats!! The rights of the citizens have been kicked off the bus and crazies like this murderer flourish in this climate of “my rights! I don’t like you and your rights! I have a gun, therefore I have more rights than you.” Hatred of others and ease of access to weapons are a bad mix!!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Kathy. Important for our Community to pull together now more than ever — only through our solidarity can this hatred be eradicated.

  4. I volunteer at both the J and VS. I love the time I spend there and the people I interact with at both locations. Hatred will never outlive love!!! Bigotry will never outlast tolerance!!!
    My friend Kathy sent me this post; I am so glad she did. I am so happy to know that there still are caring, loving, compassionate, tolerant, and supportive people in this world, both globally and locally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *