Overland Park, Looking Forward, Not Over Our Shoulders


Overland Park: Looking Forward, Not Over Our Shoulders

Students from high schools across Overland Park, KS wore white in honor of Reat Underwood


by Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director


A day after she lost her son and father to a senseless act of hate in Overland Park, Kansas, Mindy Underwood came forward in a show of great courage.

“Because there is such an outpouring, we did not want to hide, and not let people grieve with us,” she said.

This week, the nation stands in shock at the horrible killings perpetrated in Kansas City as an act of anti-Semitism and hate by a Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of violence. The shooter not only targeted Jews, but the people of many other faiths who frequent Jewish institutions like the community center and retirement home in Overland Park.

For Jews, many of whom have relatives who experienced the Holocaust first-hand, the danger posed by anti-Semitism is real. Just days before the attack, the Anti-Defamation League had distributed a security bulletin, warning of an increased risk of attacks on Jews during the Passover season and near April 20, the birthday of Hitler.

Many Americans do not realize that Jews “live with having to look over their shoulder all the time,” said Karen Aroesty, Regional Director at ADL St. Louis. “We have to hire cops for services for extra protection. In New York, you have to go through a metal detector to go into some synagogues. This is unique to the Jewish community. I hope people will learn and understand.”

Retired Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops reflected on the murders from an interfaith perspective.

“This is such a tragedy, and it happened during Passover and Holy Week. Just recently, I participated in a Jewish-Christian summit where we covenanted again as people of faith to work together for good in the world. This horrible incident reminds us how much hate is still in the world.” This horrific shooting spree draws together Jews and non-Jews alike to stand against all forms of violence and intolerance.”

Rabbi Menachem Creditor, of Temple Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA gives us a message of hope:

“So, friends, let’s not lose the pain, the rage, the hurt – or the joy – that life contains. Every Jewish generation is called to see itselfas emerging from Egypt, from constriction to expansiveness…Some of us had a hard time breathing today, and with the love and care of a community dedicated to furthering life, to deepening joy, we will breathe deeper and deeper with each passing day.”


Read more here at The Kansas City Star.


Many community response events have taken place in Overland Park and across the country. Here are some that are coming up:


Candlelight Vigil and walk at the Overland Park JCC, Friday, April 18

6 PM Shabbat Service at the Overland Park JCC

7 PM walk from the Overland Park JCC to the Village Shalom Retirement Home

Click here for more information on the Candle Light Memorial Walk.


Find out about other events

We are supporting the local community of Overland Park and sharing information on events taking place there and across the country. 

Click here to find and post more events on our Not In Our Town Facebook Page.


Take action in your town

The Not In Our Town community both comes together and reaches out in moments like these. In Bowling Green, OH, the community has joined with Bowling Green State University to say “Not In Our Town!”


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