CEO May 2014 Update

Samuel H. Asher CEO

If there is an answer to this atrocity, it is to continue to build strong and vibrant communities.

In 1983, when I was the Associate Director of the Kansas City Federation, we began working on the development of the Jewish Community Campus, Inc. The idea was simple. We would relocate most of the Jewish recreational, educational and social facilities to one common site. The sports and activities of the Jewish Community Center could interface with the Jewish Day School; using common physical education equipment; a library; and a common kitchen. 

Senior adult housing would be nearby providing for intergenerational educational programs – young and old, meeting, greeting, seeing and learning from each other. Various Jewish social service and administrative agencies (including the Federation) would be in close proximity, better able work together and serve the community. 

The campus opened in 1989 and has been serving the community beautifully for more than 25 years. All of the planning was worthwhile. The intergenerational programming, the successful day school education, the JCC and Jewish Family & Children Service programming, etc. have continued to inspire and enhance community building.

So, it was surreal when one of my old friends from Kansas City called me on April 13 and told me to turn on the news. There had been a shooting in the JCC parking lot and at Village Shalom. Generations of people, Jewish and non-Jewish, had grown up on the campus and/or had utilized the plethora of services. They had their worlds turned upside down by F. Glenn Cross, a white supremacist. Cross allegedly shot and killed Dr. William Lewis Corporan and his grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, who was at the JCC to audition for a play.

He then walked across to the Village Shalom parking lot where he allegedly killed Terri LaManno, a Catholic mother of two who was there to visit her mother. The peaceful world on the Jewish Community Campus was shattered.

Cross had founded the Carolina Knights of the Klu Klux Klan in North Carolina. He was known to Virginia authorities and the Goochland Gazette  reports that he tried to spread his hate in Goochland County some eight years ago. We need to know that the reach of virulent Anti-Semitism is far and wide.

According to the April 17 article in the Goochland Gazette , “Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew said he recognized Cross instantly when he saw the initial news reports.” Cross had come to Goochland to try and spread his hate message back in 2006. Agnew “recalls that Cross, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has called ‘a long-time anti-Semite,’ was furious with him for refusing to allow the leafleting” in Goochland.

Hundreds gathered in Kansas City for an interfaith memorial service for the victims onApril 17. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke and said, “Every alleged hate crime, no matter who the intended target, is an affront to who we are. These acts cannot be ignored. We are united in our condemnation of this heinous attack and our commitment to see that justice is served.”

Our Jewish Community Relations Community (a key arm of the Federation) is taking action here in Richmond. We are moving to reinforce our security efforts. The JCRC will hold another briefing with the FBI and local police for our agencies and Synagogues soon, so that we can continue to be vigilant.

So, how do we all meet this challenge? We will mourn the victims and be angry that anti-Semitism and hate still exist in this world.

But people need to be free to live their lives and express their culture without fear of terror. We need to continue to build strong and vibrant communities!

May Kansas City go from strength to strength in this endeavor! May we all go from strength to strength in this endeavor!

As always, call (804) 545-8622; email  or text me and let me know if you are interested in joining us.


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