For those of us who were drawn to live in Columbia by the Rouse vision of it as a "Garden for growing people," the shooting the Columbia Mall can be seen as the end of that dream.
It does not have to be that way.
The mall was and is Columbia's downtown — the heart of the community.
We cannot let one act of a deeply disturbed person destroy the commitment to the good that remains in the community and the capacity of the community to carry on the original vision of what Columbia was meant to be. It can rather enforce it. This means, instead of being frightened away from the Mall because of what happened, we should make a special point of going there — to say with our presence — no one person can destroy all the sense of fun, of presence, of joining together that makes a community real.
Because of this, we should not go to the mall just to shop or eat or "be seen." We need to go to the Mall to say to the world which is watching, Columbia is alive and well. It is a real community that knows how to carry on in spite of fear and threats. It is a community that knows how to nurture each other. And yes, we are still a "Garden for growing people".
Rabbi Martin Siegel
Rabbi Siegel was the founding rabbi of the Columbia Jewish Congregation and the chairman of the effort to incorporate Columbia as an independent city.