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Jewish community remembers tragedy

Hundreds will gather Monday to commemorate 10th anniversary of North Valley shooting

Posted: August 7, 2009 8:38 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2009 8:00 a.m.

Monday will bring about tragic memories for hundreds of members of the local Jewish community as they remember "one of the most brutal acts of terror and hate in recent memory in Southern California," said Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami.

Ten years after the event, Blazer still vividly remembers the Aug. 10, 1999, shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills.

No more than an hour after the shooting, Blazer was at Holy Cross Hospital attempting to comfort families.

"I was there in the hospital looking at the bloodstained shoes of the kids who were shot," he said. "Those images are burned in my mind."

On Aug. 10 ten years ago, a gunman opened fire at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, wounding three boys, a teenage girl and a woman; hours later, the gunman shot and killed letter carrier Joseph Ileto.

The shooter, white supremacist Buford O. Furrow, later pleaded guilty to the shootings and is serving two life sentences.

Hundreds of Jewish community members from local and surrounding areas are expected to recall the events of that day Monday at 10 a.m. during a "Remember, Renew and Recommit" service at 24001 The Old Road. The service is open to the public.

"We are the only Jewish institution in the area that's going to be commemorating this, on that day, with an open ceremony," Blazer said.

The site where the commemoration service is to be held will also be dedicated as the future Southern California Center for Jewish Life.

Speakers will include families and survivors who were at the North Valley center the morning of the tragedy; Jerry Wayne, executive director of the now-closed North Valley center; and Blazer.

"We're trying to do it (and) at the same time to remember where we were exactly 10 years ago when that happened, and reconnect with those feelings and emotions," Blazer said.

Blazer will also read a letter from Todd Carb, a Santa Clarita resident and paramedic who transported one of the young male victims of the shooting. Carb will not be able to attend Monday's service because he will be working.

"I still remember it like it just happened. There were very violent actions that took place," Carb said on Thursday. "I still maintain contact with the boy that was shot there. You never forget about it."

But while Monday will be a time to look back, it'll also allow the Jewish community to look forward, Blazer said.

"One thing we're doing, our synagogue and Jewish community in Santa Clarita is committed to rebuilding a Jewish community center," he said.

The North Valley center closed about seven years ago due to lack of financial support, Blazer said.

The new site is envisioned as a center for local Jewish people and the greater Los Angeles community. It is expected to be complete in 2011.

Contact Robin Bratslavsky at (818) 404-9756 or for more information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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