As anniversaries go, it's an event we should never forget - and its commemoration provides the perfect time for announcing a new opportunity.
On Monday, the Southern California Center for Jewish Life will host a 'Remember, Renew and Recommit' ceremony marking the 10-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, where five people were injured by a gunman determined to "kill some Jews."
On August 10, 1999, Buford O. Furrow, Jr. walked into the lobby of the center and opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon, firing 70 shots into the complex, wounding three children, a counselor and an office worker. He left the center and came upon a mail carrier, who he shot and killed. Furrow fled the state, but eventually surrendered to authorities and was convicted of murder. He is currently serving two consecutive life sentences.
The center is no longer open in Granada Hills, closed due to budget problems and a reduction in services provided by the umbrella group that ran the center.
"The North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting was probably the largest act of anti-Semitism in Los Angeles in a long time," said Robin Bratslavsky, spokesperson for Temple Beth Ami. "And it wasn't just Jews who were shot; a very hard-working Asian-American was killed that day."
Blazer will be joining with survivors from the shooting and their families at the event, which is open to the public, and will be held at 10 a.m. at the Southern California Center for Jewish Life, 24001 The Old Road (near Calgrove).
"The Jewish Community Center has been a fixture in the Jewish community for several years," Bratslavsky said. "North Valley served Santa Clarita as well; they had a preschool, youth activities, activities for older adults, a pool and gym. A lot of kids literally grew up at the JCCS."
"We want to rejuvenate the JCC, to remember the victims and prevent anything like that happening again. If it happens in one community, it can happen anywhere else," she said.
Bratslavsky said that Santa Clarita is ready for its own center because the demographics have changed drastically - in a good way.
"Tolerance is increasing, not just for Jews, but for every other group," she said. "Our community has become so much more diverse. There are good things happening, out of tragedy good can come out of it."
The Southern California Center for Jewish Life has plans for a school, synagogue and other facilities to complete a new Jewish Community Center campus on The Old Road that will be announced at the event.