Jewish community, Israelis mourn victims of Chicago's Highland Park shooting
Israelis offer condolences as residents of the heavily Jewish Illinois suburb question motives behind the slaughter
This story was updated on July 6, 8:36 a.m. Israel time.
The largely Jewish suburb Highland Park, 25 miles north of Chicago, is reeling from the July Fourth mass shooting that took seven lives and left at least 36 wounded.
Illinois officials have named 22-year-old Robert Crimo III as the gunman that shot into the crowd at the annual Independence Day parade, the first time the event had been held since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
After reportedly shooting more than 70 rounds of a high-powered rifle from a rooftop, Crimo evaded capture by fleeing with the crowd disguised as a woman, according to Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli.
Officials believe Crimo had been planning the shooting for weeks, but police said they cannot determine a motive and that the “shooting appears to be completely random.”
Meanwhile, the Highland Park Jewish community is reeling from the incident. At least four of the seven victims were Jewish.
The suburb, full of kosher restaurants and Jewish camps, has been referred to as the Chicago-area "Jerusalem" and 3% of its Jewish population is Israeli.
Israelis offered condolences and support following the attack.
Devastated to hear the news from Highland Park, where a day of celebration became a day of tragedy. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and all the American people.— יאיר לפיד - Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) July 4, 2022
Today as always, Israel stands with our American friends.
"Devastated to hear the news from Highland Park, where a day of celebration became a day of tragedy. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and all the American people," Prime Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter. "Today as always, Israel stands with our American friends."
Israel’s opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also posted his condolences on social media on Monday.
"Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the people of America. The Fourth of July is a celebration of freedom and the founding of the great democracy of the United States," he said. "It should be a time of joy and not of mourning."
Irena McCarthy, 35, Kevin McCarthy, 37, left behind a 2-year-old son who was found alone in the aftermath of the massacre.
Jacki Sundheim, 63, a senior staffer and events coordinator at North Shore Congregation Israel in nearby Glencoe, was responsible for coordinating the synagogue’s b’nei mitzvah coming-of-age Torah-reading ceremonies for 12- to 13-year-olds.
“Jacki’s work, kindness and warmth touched us all,” wrote NSCI in an email to its members. A statement to the media added, “There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki’s death and sympathy for her family and loved ones.”
Sundheim is survived by her husband, Bruce, and daughter, Leah.
“We know you join us in the deepest prayer that Jacki’s soul will be bound up in the shelter of God’s wings and her family will somehow find comfort and consolation amidst this boundless grief,” said NSCI’s statement.
A 78-year-old grandfather, Nicholas Toledo, was visiting from Mexico when he was killed. Toledo reportedly visited the United States every summer to spend time with his children and grandchildren.
The third fatality was identified Tuesday afternoon – financial advisor Stephen Straus, 88.
Straus’ grandson, Tobias Straus, told The New York Post by phone, “He was always biking and walking and he went to work every day by choice; he took the Metro downtown; he was in great shape. ... Especially for his age, he definitely could’ve lived a lot longer.”
Another victim who has been named is Katherine Goldstein, 64.
ZAKA International has reported that more Jewish casualties will be named. The Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest is in contact with authorities and the Jewish community.
Israeli consul general to the region, Yinam Cohen, responded to the shooting on social media.
“I am devastated by yesterday’s senseless attack in Highland Park, a community we love and care for very much,” he tweeted. “This attack personally impacted so many people we know. Among the victims were members of Chicagoland’s Jewish community.”
I am devastated by yesterday’s senseless attack in Highland Park, a community we love and care for very much.— ינעם כהן Yinam Cohen (@YinamCohen) July 5, 2022
This attack personally impacted so many people we know. Among the victims were members of Chicagoland’s Jewish community. >>
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, members of the community and all those shaken by yesterday’s brutal attack,” he added.
Reportedly, about a third of the area’s population of 30,000 residents are Jewish. Unlike many of its suburban neighbors, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, “Highland Park welcomed a sizable Jewish population after World War II.”
Jeff Leon, a Jewish lawyer, speculated that the July 4th attack was possibly anti-Semitic in nature.
“Probably half the people who live in Highland Park are Jewish, and that just can’t be a coincidence,” he told Forward magazine.
An Israeli-American at the parade named Deborah shared similar suspicions with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
When “something happens like this in an upper-to-middle class, half-Jewish area, you have to wonder,” she said.
In April, the local community experienced an anti-Semitic incident that was covered by the media. On Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – flyers containing hate speech against Jews appeared in local neighborhoods
In response, the city issued a statement condemning anti-Semitism.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.