The Baltimore area's Jewish community reacted with shock, sadness and outrage last night to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
"I am so overwhelmed -- with grief and with sadness," said Darrell Friedman, president of the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. "Ultimately, he gave his life to bring peace in that region."
Mr. Rabin was shot to death at the conclusion of a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Authorities identified the gunman as an Israeli who claimed to be acting on orders from God.
"I am outraged that yet another individual has been struck down reaching out for peace," said Rabbi Joel Zaiman of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Pikesville. "There is no way this tragedy can slacken [Israel's] commitment to peace. If it does, extremism will have won the day and that would be an outrageous tragedy."
Bill Blaul, communications director for the Baltimore Archdiocese, said Cardinal William H. Keeler called Rabbi Zaiman to express sympathy and promise prayers among the Catholic community.
The cardinal described Mr. Rabin as a "martyr in the cause of peace," adding that he was "confident of prayers for God's great gift of peace in the Middle East."
Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke issued a statement extending his "deepest sympathy" to the family of Prime Minister Rabin and to the people of Israel on behalf of Baltimore.
"I want to express my horror and outrage at the tragic assassination," Mayor Schmoke said. "Prime Minister Rabin was a man of peace and visionary leader.
"In my trips to Israel, both as a young adult and as mayor of Baltimore, I was in awe of Israel's burning desire to live in harmony with her neighbors and to be a beacon of hope to the nations of the world."
At the Columbia Jewish Congregation, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary last night, Rabbi Martin Siegel urged the temple's members to join the fallen Israeli leader's quest for peace.
Mr. Rabin left "a legacy of peace to his country and in the world," Rabbi Siegel said. "Now he has died as have so many others who chose to take the risks to [achieve] peace. Let not the risks of peace deter us from pursuing it."
By early evening, many people huddled in small groups in the lobby at Chizuk Amuno to discuss the assassination. They had )) come to hear a long-planned piano recital by Vladimir Feltsman.
Some concertgoers said they had not heard of Mr. Rabin's death until after Sabbath services yesterday afternoon.
"The point is that Jews do not kill Jews," said Dr. Nathan Schnaper of Baltimore. "They curse and scream and holler. But they never kill each other. It's surprising. He [the alleged assassin] has to be a madman. This is beyond being political."
"Every American Jew," said Harriett Panitz of Baltimore, "is going to be touched by this."