Rabbi Mira Rivera, seen here in her office in 2019, will lead the upcoming Lunar Collective event. (Photo/JTA-Josefin Dolsten)
Rabbi Mira Rivera, seen here in her office in 2019, will lead the upcoming Lunar Collective event. (Photo/JTA-Josefin Dolsten)

Today: Asian American Jewish group’s event will address mass shootings in California

A collective of Asian American Jews that started on Lunar New Year two years ago is planning an online event on Wednesday in response to the back-to-back mass shootings in California that killed 11 people in Monterey Park and seven more in Half Moon Bay.

A post on the Facebook page of the Lunar Collective noted that the murders at a ballroom in the largely Asian American community of Monterey Park happened the same night as the LA chapter of the group’s own lunar new year gathering, which was originally planned to be in Monterey Park. “So this hits close to home for those of us in LA,” the post said.

“We are deeply saddened and angered by yet another act of senseless gun violence that has resulted in the loss of sacred human life,” it continued. “The concept of B’tzelem Elohim, that we are created in the image of the divine, is core to Judaism. Any destruction to human life is a desecration of holiness.”

Gen Slosberg, a co-founder of the Lunar Collective who moved to Washington D.C. from the Bay Area last year, pointed out that the 2021 killings of six Asian women and two others at three spas in Atlanta had come only a month after the group’s creation. “Last time, the shooting was on the heels of the celebration,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “This time they were the exact same date.”

Rabbi Mira Rivera will lead the Wednesday event, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Registration is required. Rivera was the first Filipina American rabbi to be ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary and is now rabbi-in-residence at the Lunar Collective.

Authorities say that 72-year-old Huu Can Tran opened fire Saturday night at a Monterey Park dance hall where he once taught. Tran fled to a second dance hall in nearby Alhambra, where police said he was disarmed by two civilians at the scene, and then drove 30 miles to Torrance, where police surrounded his vehicle and found him dead in the driver’s seat, apparently of suicide.

In Half Moon Bay, 30 miles south of San Francisco, four people were found dead Monday afternoon in a mushroom nursery, according to the San Mateo County sheriff’s office. Three more were later discovered to have been fatally shot at another nursery nearby.

San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said the suspect as Zhao Chunli, 67, was apprehended without incident in a sheriff’s office parking lot.

There is no known connection between the shootings, and the motives remain unclear.

In her Facebook post, Slosberg said to her fellow Asian American Jews that a range of responses to the tragedies are “all valid.”

Robin Washington
Robin Washington

Robin Washington, an award-winning veteran journalist from Minnesota, is the Forward’s Editor-at-Large. He was one of the founders of the Alliance for Black Jews and early pioneer of the term, “Jew of color” more than two decades ago. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @robinbirk.

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