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By Jacob Henry

(New York Jewish Week) — After Saturday’s mass shooting that took the lives of mostly older Asian Americans in Monterey Park, California over the weekend, a Jewish organization in New York is seeing renewed interest in an initiative that focuses on solidarity between the Asian and Jewish communities.

That initiative, called Jews For Asians, is gearing up for numerous vigils in New York this week as the Asian American community processes yet another tragedy. Just two days after a gunman opened fire on a Lunar New Year celebration and murdered 11 people, on Monday, yet another gunman killed seven people in two separate incidents in the California coastal town of Half Moon Bay.

Jews For Asians brings volunteers to vigils and solidarity events to help mourners feel safe in a public spaces. “This horrible incident on Lunar New Year drove a bunch of interest in Jews For Asians,” Carlyn Cowen, a co-founder of the group, told the New York Jewish Week. “We’re now plugging people in. We train people to offer solidarity support and then we connect people where that support is needed.”

Cowen started Jews For Asians with Rafael Shimunov after the Atlanta spa shooting spree in March 2021, when a gunman killed eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent. The group is a project of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, a progressive group.

“People just wanted to help,” Shimunov told the New York Jewish Week. “We wanted to use that energy. We saw hundreds of volunteers sign up.”

Cowen, a Filipnx JFREJ member, said that Jews For Asians also provides security for other communities. In addition, the group offers trainings on de-escalation, situational awareness, how to interact with the police and more.

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