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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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My Family’s Terror at the NJ Garden State Mall (Video)

Suddenly tens of people start running toward us screaming “There’s a shooter. SHOOTER. Run. Get out.”
I put the kids in the car. I am outside on the phone. I call again. Mercy of mercies, my wife answers. She is trembling as she speaks. “There’s a shooter, Shmuley, right outside a store we’re in. The salesperson saw him. He was carrying an AK-47, holding it in the air. We heard about 6 shots. We’re terrified. Where are you? Get out. Get out of the mall. Are the kids OK?”

I put the kids in the car. I am outside on the phone. I call again. Mercy of mercies, my wife answers. She is trembling as she speaks. “There’s a shooter, Shmuley, right outside a store we’re in. The salesperson saw him. He was carrying an AK-47, holding it in the air. We heard about 6 shots. We’re terrified. Where are you? Get out. Get out of the mall. Are the kids OK?”
Photo Credit: Screen shot

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His adviser proceeds to call me every few minutes and calls my wife as well. He is an angel from heaven. Debbie is calmer now because the sounds of the gunshots have subsided.

Suddenly the people in the parking lot are running as well. “Gun shots, gun shots,” they scream. I can swear I hear loud pops. I get into the car. I am driving in circles in the parking lot. I want to be safe with the kids, but I don’t want to leave the mall because my wife and daughter are inside.

I am calling my wife every minute, getting her to assure me she is OK and that her cell phone is not going to die. “Don’t leave me with no way to contact you and don’t leave where you are. And tell the people with you to speak softly.”

The children in the back of the car are crying. I am trying to assure them that their mother and sister are going to be fine. God is going to protect them. I tell them we have to pray. We recite Psalm 20 in Hebrew. We repeat it. I call my wife again. She is telling me she is OK and that there is no sound of gunfire. They continue to hide in the store room.

I drive out of the parking lot and reach a 7-11 so the kids can buy something and calm down. There is a woman outside shaking, speaking on her cell phone. She tells me she was in Nordstrom’s, heard all the shots, and ducked under the clothing and hid. She got out. Her family who was with her are safe. She asks if I have anyone inside the mall and I tell her. She tells me she prays my family will be safe.

On Twitter I spread the word of the shooting. I ask everyone to pray for the people inside without saying that my wife and daughter are there. I ask over and over again to pray generally that the people within should emerge safely.

I am calling my wife every few minutes. I am thinking to myself that America has gone crazy. This past Friday night, for Shabbat dinner, the main point of conversation of our guests was the terrible shooting in Los Angeles at LAX and the other shootings that week at schools. Now, we’re at the center of it. Could this really be happening?

My wife finally tells me that she thinks they are beginning to evacuate people. They can see scores of police outside the store. I tell her not to move until they come for her.

I get the kids back into the car and we drive to a parking lot overlooking the Garden State mall where we can see SWAT teams moving into the building and a growing police presence. There are helicopters overhead.

Senator Booker calls in terrible anxiety to ask if my wife is OK. At that moment, as if by a miracle, she calls on the other line and tells me that the SWAT teams have come to move them out. I connect the calls on my phone. Cory, ever the gentleman, tells my wife not to panic and he is so happy to hear she is OK. His warmth and caring comforts us both.

A few moments later my wife calls me to tell me she is safely out. SWAT members screamed to them to move out with their hands in the air. A military scene was all around her as they made them run out of the building. SWAT members, she says, fill the entire mall. The gunman is still at large and they are briskly moving people out, with bullet proof shields protecting them.

With heartfelt thanks, I begin reciting Psalm 91. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High.” I also think to myself how incredible and brave the police are.

My wife and daughter are safe. It’s a miracle. Thank you, Oh Lord, for your kindness to me and my family, I say to myself. I will try and be a better person, a better servant of yours, Oh Lord. Thank you, Lord, for Your protection and goodness.

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About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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36 Responses to “My Family’s Terror at the NJ Garden State Mall (Video)”

  1. Ah Ezr says:

    An anti-Semitic cellphone?

  2. the law and order at all costs is the first priority

  3. the law and order at all costs is the first priority

  4. Lisa Kamins says:

    before Rav Kadoorie died he said during this time period the safest place for Jews is Israel. time to make aliya.

  5. Yehuda Alan Paret says:

    The problem was not the .22 rifle but rather the angry demented person. He said he not trying to murder anyone.

  6. Dear Rabbi Shmuley Boteach thank you for your article. I have echoed your question so many times. Why, Why, Why, and how many more times does this have to happen before those "in power" do something about it.

  7. An armed society is a polite society; it is shameful to cringe in fear because you can't or won't defend yourself…disgraceful even! Get a gun, learn how to use it and keep it near and dear to you and yours…and quit bemoaning what others are armed with…certainly criminals don't care what the law says or what you think it 'should' do!

  8. Robin Schwartz says:

    Wake up to the fact that it gun ownership is criminalized, only criminals will have guns.

  9. Bonnie Lynne McClory says:

    You are extremely misinformed if you think that people intent on shooting won't be able to get guns if they are outlawed.

  10. A person intent on killing will use another weapon if a gun is not available. It is not the gun that is at fault, it is the person who is using the gun who is at fault. I'm not sure how we identify such people, nor what is causing them to become so violent. When I was growing up, this type of violence was not a problem. Something is different now, but I'm not sure what it is. Perhaps it's the disintegration of society caused by the disintegration of the nuclear family and the "normalization" of evil in today's society.

  11. Bruce Cameron says:

    Ms Caplan is partly correct in saying that it is not the gun at fault. What she fails to say is that the fault lies with a constitution which in the 21st century gives people the "right" to own guns with which they may kill their fellow citizens. What;s wrong with this picture folks???

  12. The fault is not with the gun but the one who holds the gun. There is no object or invention in this world that doesn't have serious consequences upon being misused, including computers and internet! Reb Shmuley, after learning the lessons of the Holocaust how can you possibly call for an end to gun ownership?? Would you disarm an entire nation because of the actions of only a few??

  13. Barbara Glasner- Yes Rabbi Boteach the Word of God is true and it works in the time of crisis. I have also been in times when I called on the name of the the Lord and he helped me through awful situations. Praise His Name! I am glad you are safe .

  14. Time to come on Aliyah, Rabbi. You have no good excuse to remain in the US. Bring your kids up where they belong and can feel at home. Put your talents to use in eretz yisrael.

  15. The question is, why do we have so many demented people in our society? Once we figure that out and address it, the killings will subside.

  16. Vogelgesang Sylvie says:

    Messiah has come time to turn to Him Daniel 9 explicitly states that He had to come before the destruction of The temple ! Not sure G-D has a Son check the scriptures proverb 30:4 and psalms 2 . The plan of salvation is reveled in the meanings of the names in descending order in Genesis 5 Trust G-D He has proven His faithfulness Israel is a nation as He promised !

  17. Leslie Dixon says:

    Because we closed all the state hospitals, cut back on all the mental health funding and released all these people into the community with no resources or facilities to treat or care for them!! And then people wonder what is happening……

  18. Leslie Dixon says:

    If they were all returned to the state mental hospitals where they belong then all will be well, and they WON"T be able to get guns whether or not they are intent on shooting. But alas bleeding heart liberals or whoever decided it was in the mentally ill's best interests to release them into society where they are not equipped or able to function or to live normal lives and end up committing crimes as this. When will people make the connection between cutbacks to mental health services and the closing of the state hospitals and all the school, and mall shootings and other craziness going on in this country is the question? Is anyone even trying to figure out why all of this is happening? When someone is a danger to others they need to be removed from the 'others' so they can do no harm. The state hospitals served this purpose.

  19. Leslie Dixon says:

    No Monica, what is different now is that the state hospitals have been closed and mental health funding has been cut back tremendously so now there are no suitable places for mentally ill people to receive treatment and services as before. Someone decided it was best to release the mentally ill into the communities however they did not think to provide the care and treatment that the mentally ill require. I have been a psychiatric nurse for 30 years, 30 years ago there were services and inpatient hospitalization for those who were considered a 'danger to others'; and they were not released into the communities until the staff and psychiatrists felt that they were no longer dangerous. It is totally different now; I saw it start to change in the 90s and it has gone down hill ever since. With so little understanding of mental illness in our society no one seems to be making the connection that is so obvious to me. Some people will never get better and need hospitalization to protect society all of their lives. But the push for 'patient rights' went way overboard and now the mentally ill have rights that allow them to do all these shootings, etc.

  20. Robin Birdfish says:

    The questions is…why do we still resist sane gun regulations? Not all shooters alee insane, not all shooter should be in mental hospitals…and as long as we use that as our excuse for not passing sane gun laws we put our children and loved ones at risk every day. Israel has some of the strictest regulations on guns in the world..as do all other sane countries…while we still allow the NRA and gun idiots to run around yelling about the 2nd amendment and allowing mass shootings daily here

  21. Ray Watson says:

    Yes indeed , Messiah has come and ready to receive all for salvation that will come to HIM in Faith, Believing http://www.friendsofabraham.us

  22. There is no excuse now for Jews not to make aliyah because it is dangerous. We have great security and normal people carry guns to protect themselves if need be.

  23. There is no security in Israel!! Ginsberg watch your local Tv stations as Chadashout Ahsahre(10)(2)Mabat! We see live broadcasts from Israel, Arabs murdering Jews. And Jewish criminals,and Jewish crime families,shooting bombing each other and innocent bystanders as last and this week in Ashkolon. Since Rabin surrendered to the PLO your governments have lost control of the streets! This week in a room in the knesset, a committee hearing about allowing Jews to pray on the Har HaBayit,the Arabs present broke into a riot, stating there is no Har Bayit(THE HOLY TEMPLES NEVER EXISTED)and if Jews pray there, an Intifidah will ensue. The chairwoman was threatened by the Arabs in the Knesset"OVER YOUR DEAD BODY"if Jews dare pray there! The committee had a number of kippah wearing men,only one mildly protested and the Arab Mk told him to shout up! Barbara what about the thousands of Jewish women who were abducted by Arabs are forced into Islam and intermarriage? They are kidnapped into Judea/Samaria,Gaza strip and Sinai dessert! Others are sold as sex slaves. You are at fault! Where is the Jewish spring in Israel!

  24. By Israeli statistics since 1948 over 23,000 uniformed(poice,soldiers,shabak,mossad) Jews were murdered by Arabs! How many thousands of Jewish civilians were murdered by Arabs since 1948? Jewish elderly are being beaten by Arabs and by some Jews, in house breakins! In Israeli hospitalsthe doctors and nurses are physically attacked(Only secular Israelis ).. Every Wednesday go to bcat.tv 10;00AM and 6:00PM NEW YORK TIME. Watch Judaism! Scroll down to bcat Tv Network, click on it,on new window scroll to channel two screen, and click on the inside arrow! Enjoy!

  25. CORRECTION: BCAT.TV SCROLL DOWN TO BROOKLYN PUBLIC NETWORK,CLICK ON IT! On new Window scroll down to CHANNEL 2 Screen and click on arrow in middle of screen. Enjoy! EVERY WEDNESDAY 10:00AM & 6;00PM,NEW YORK TIME

  26. a must read-this is what has become somewhat common in America-

  27. Thank God He hears and answers prayer!!!

  28. Letsread Tosee says:

    The doctrine of hypocrisy, live and do as it does and if you get an ignorant following you’ll prosper. PRO 30: 11-14 WISDOM 5:8 Now you see the reason for most of your unpleasant seasons of the mind, self inflicted blows. Where are the wounded soldiers? And instead of whining about a meager diet ask and pray for the help to live it, you’ll be glad you did. NUM 21:5

    The scriptures speak about a new heart are you willing to investigate?

    What is it to be sanctified? Have you truly been born again? It is an experience! That you will never forget and will change your life forever. The HOLY SPIRIT is sent to live within you and enlighten you in every sense of the word. It is not an intellectual decision. Some churches will say that if you said a certain prayer that they believe you’ve been born again. But that sounds like their decision?

    And it sounds like they have tried to belittle and make light of a very awesome experience!! What is spiritual maturity? Slow careful consideration, especially about life. How long can you be still and take time to listen? The Sabbath would discover that. ISAIAH 30:15 Are you content with reading the HOLY BIBLE? Prudence is also a mark of maturity, PRO 22:3, 27:12

    And be careful of what you tell others they may hear the results of your own disobedience. How many books have revealed that truth? PRO 27:22 See how fast they fall, ever heard of a meat diet? Sirach 20:18 Prudence and discretion keeps discerning minds from learning the hard way, painful experiences. Anyone ever had a succession of painful experiences? PS 107

    A discerning mind would recognize the reason for the first one and learn from your mistake.

    And We all have made mistakes, but what a JOY it brings when we learn from them. Does it really take a painful succession of melancholy experiences before you learn from them? Or is it still a riddle to you? A DISCERNING mind can avoid, the sinner’s troubles! A discerning mind can avoid the lash, and maybe now the drunkard will. LK 15:1-7, 21:34 Stay sober and wake up. People in the world live with a terrifying battle against ignorance.

    Why pollute your own body not to mention your kids. Feed them toxins and chemicals and YOU turn them into a toxic dump. Remember the day may come when they ask why, and what will it cost you then? How do you bury a loved one? A full plate, a full glass and latter, you kiss the coffin very sad. What could be worse? Please read, Filling the kids with flesh and fast food is like the kiss on the cheek. Is a mother’s love a test? OR, a sure thing. Motherhood could be a test of character and an opportunity to be a wholesome influence.

    A promoter of good health and well being to the mind and spirit.

    Would you throw dangerous appetites at your children in the hopes of obtaining more of the humbled dollar?? What’s the parents hope then? That by the time the child realizes that he or she has a choice their minds are to dull and insensitive (APATHY) to care about life and what they eat. You might say not true. But do you, prove that to be true? And so goes another depraved and corrupt, materialistic generation. ILL, Diseased and rusty souls, minds.

    How much value do you put on life? What do you treasure? What do you get serious about? What about your kids? What you eat and drink would reveal how much you value the life you’ve been given. Some may have to reveal how much they value life before they taste the Spirit! And if you’ve been born again then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Click on user name for more

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