Charlie Garcia-Spiegel
4 min readJan 16, 2022


Note: This was originally written as a Twitter thread, as the events in Colleyville, Texas, were unfolding. Since writing that original thread, the hostages in the synagogue were returned to their families, and the hostage-taker was killed by state forces.

I cannot rejoice in the hostage-taker’s death. Midrash gives us the story that as the Jews were fleeing Egypt, they began to celebrate that Pharaoh and his army had been killed. God intervened, telling them not to rejoice, because Pharaoh and his army had been God’s creations too. Just as my theological ancestors could not rejoice at the death of Pharaoh, so too will I refuse to celebrate the death of one of God’s creations at the hands of the state, no matter the actions and intent of that specific creation.

With that update in mind, I choose not to update the original thread beyond this brief note, for accessibility purposes and for ease of citation. Aside from this note, this piece is nearly identical to the original thread, with any changes being edits of typos or word choice to better match Medium’s formatting. If you have any questions, would like to republish this piece anywhere, or would like to contact me for any other reason, please reach out to me at If you’d like to return to the original thread, you can do so here: Return to Twitter.

Something that doesn’t escape my notice is that, when Jewish spaces are targeted, it’s so very often the progressive ones. The ones that open their doors to the stranger. That help immigrants and refugees. That fight against injustice. I hope we keep fighting, no matter the costs.

At the same time, I’m terrified. My shuls, both my first community and the shul near my current apartment, are among those progressive shuls. There’s a target on the backs of rabbis I’ve learned from. Elders I care for. Children whose b’nei mitzvot I’ve celebrated. And one on me.

It’s genuinely so painful that when we live out our religious and moral values — welcoming the stranger, fighting for justice, trying to do even a little good in the world — we end up targeted and fearing for our lives. That our openness is turned against us.

What can we even do though, except keep trying to help people? There’s nothing to be gained from hardening our hearts and shutting out the world. Any safety that brings is tainted, because there are still people in danger, and temporary, because they WILL come after us anyways.

It brings me to tears that, no matter what, there is a target on my back. If I continue doing the work, I will be retaliated against, If I retreat into solely Jewish spaces, I will be targeted for being visibly Jewish. If (God forbid) I try to hide in goyish society, I’d fear being found out.

I’m scared, and tired, and furious. And I also know that these concerns aren’t unique to Jewish communities. That so many kinds of communities are targeted in this way. But that knowledge doesn’t take the fear or the pain away in this moment. Nothing can take that away.

I grew up in an interfaith family, in a (relatively) Jewish neighborhood, with five different synagogues, a kosher supermarket, and a Jewish bakery all within a ten minute drive from my childhood home. Being in this community brings me so much joy, but also so much fear.

I would not be who I am without having grown up in this environment. Without having waved to Orthodox neighbors walking to shul on Shabbat. Without Shabbos dinners and Pesach seders in community with all kinds of people, Jewish or not. Without marching in protests with my rabbi.

I’m at my mother’s right now, and have seen some of those very neighbors walking to and from shul, likely with no idea of what is unfolding in Texas. My heart breaks for them, and for the terror they will feel as the sun sets and they re-enter the secular world.

My heart also breaks for those of us who do use technology on Shabbat, who are glued to our screens, helpless, watching in real time as our community members fear for their lives. Who have had the beauty of Shabbat torn so cruelly away from us, as happens time and time again.

I should note as well that, for many of us, this is not an abstract terror. We have friends, or cousins, or colleagues, so many kinds of connections, all over. People we love are in danger. There are jokes to be made about Jewish geography, but only because it’s real for so many.

I pray that my loved ones in Texas make it through this situation as safe and in one piece as they can be. I pray that no other community ever has to face this kind of fear, even though I know that they someday will. I pray that this brings us closer together, not drives us apart.

I pray that we continue to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, shelter the unhoused, provide care to all who need it, whether or not they are Jewish. I pray that in doing so, we do not become even greater targets of violence. I pray, because what else can I do?

And I hope against all hope that these prayers, as small and futile as they likely are, reach the hearts and minds of those with the power to do something, because there are so many things that can and must be done. We keep each other safe, because nobody else will.

Because there are, in fact, things that can be done. There is strength in numbers. I’ll be frank: Jewish people cannot keep ourselves safe on our own. We need non-Jewish accomplices who are willing to put their very bodies between us and white supremacists. Where are you?

As Jews, we are called (whether by our God or simply by our own ethics and values) to care for others. We will keep doing so, even if it costs us our lives. I pray that those outside of our communities will help us continue to do that work in safety and community. V’imru: amen.



Charlie Garcia-Spiegel

student worker and organizer on stolen ramaytush and lisjan lands. for professional communication, twitter for everything else