Highland Park Shooting took Seven Lives and Orphaned a Two-Year-Old

Highland Park Shooting took Seven Lives and Orphaned a Two-Year-Old

By Yehudit Garmaise

At least four of the seven victims of the July 4 shooting at the parade in Highland Park, Ill., were Jewish.

Two of the four victims killed were parents of a 2-year-old Jewish child, whom rescue workers tragically found wandering around and asking strangers whether his parents would soon return.

Highland Park police posted the photo of the little orphan, Aiden McCarthy, in hopes of locating his parents.

Sadly, both his father and mother were found dead.

His Jewish mother Irena, was the daughter of Misha and Nina Levberg, who escaped from Soviet Russia in the hopes of better lives. 

Now they are caring for their grandson who was orphaned in a country that is poisoned by gun violence.

A GoFundMe account created Tuesday has already raised more than $950,000 for the young boy after his parents were murdered at a usually wholesome and sweet small-town parade, where a Klezmer band played and pets marched in their own parade.

Other Jews who were murdered at the shooting were identified as Catherine Goldstein, who was a 64-year-old mother of two daughters, Stephen Strauss, who was 88 and a former financial adviser, and Jacki Sundheim, who was 63 and a beloved preschool teacher at a local synagogue.

With a population that is one-third Jewish, Highland Park has long been the home of many less religiously observant Jews, but thanks to the efforts of Chabad shluchim and other outreach efforts, the upscale Chicago suburb on Lake Michigan has increased its frum community by adding a kosher butcher, a mikvah, and an Orthodox shul in recent years.

While the neighborhood’s newfound openness to Torah is cause for Simcha, the visible presence of Orthodox Jews may have been a motive for Robert E. Crimo III, the 22-year-old mass shooter, who had previously posted eerie rants about fascism online and entered a local Chabad House just before Pesach, when most Chabad Houses host community seders.

Rabbi Yosef Schanowitz, who runs the Chabad House just blocks away from where the shooting occurred and where many residents took shelter after the shooting, told Israel’s Channel 2 that he asked Crimo to leave after noticing that the heavily tattooed suspect “was not a member of our community.” 

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