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All of us were deeply saddened and horrified by the recent terror attack on innocent parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. On Wednesday, June 17, nine innocent people were shot and killed during a Bible study meeting. Dylann Roof, who allegedly told his victims that his crime was racially motivated, now stands charged with nine counts of murder.

Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) have donated $10,000 to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, which will be used to cover the funeral and burial expenses of the victims. Any funds beyond those expenses will be donated to the Emanuel AME Church in hopes of providing some comfort to their grieving congregation. 

In addition, CJP and JCRC are donating $5,000 to local violence prevention programs. These funds will be split between the Roxbury Presbyterian Social Impact Center and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute. 

The Roxbury Presbyterian Social Impact Center is the non-profit arm of an important local African American church led by Reverend Liz Walker. The Center’s mission is to create educational and economic development programs to strengthen the Roxbury community and address the epidemic of violence. They focus on violence prevention and supportive services to heal from grief and trauma. 

The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute was founded by Tina Cherry following the murder of her young son Louis, 20 years ago. The JCRC works with Tina and her Institute as part of our organizing work to prevent gun violence. Their mission is to serve as a center of healing, teaching and learning for families and communities dealing with murder, trauma, grief and loss. The funds will be used to support the REST IN PEACE FUND, a fund intended to alleviate the burden of grieving families by offsetting burial costs to survivors of homicide victims in need. 

Though money can never replace the lives that were lost in Charleston, CJP and JCRC give these contributions as an act of solidarity. An attack on a house of worship is an affront to people of faith and good conscience everywhere. Though sadly this tragedy is not unique, CJP and JCRC  can never become inured to images of violence and death in a holy setting. CJP and JCRC join with leaders of all faiths in condemning this act of hate and again call for this to be a turning point in the epidemic of gun violence. 

Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the victims and their families, the Emanuel AME Church, the AME community across the country and our friends locally, and the entire city of Charleston.