Following Deadly Violence in Vegas, a Rabbi Provides Comfort

Rabbi Mendy Harlig
In what is being called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, a gunman with multiple weapons at his disposal, stationed in a high-floor room at a Las Vegas hotel, rained a rapid-fire hail of bullets on outdoor music-concert-goers Sunday night, sowing death and pandemonium. At least 50 have been reported dead and more than 400 people wounded, many of them rushed to nearby hospitals, according to local officials.

Rabbi Mendy Harlig, a chaplain with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said it has been a long and harrowing night for law enforcement.

Las Vegas police rush to the scence of a massacre in which a lone gunman killed at least 50 people attending an outdoor music concert.

Speaking at 7 a.m. local time in a tired voice, the rabbi spoke of officers who rushed to the scene near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, and soon found themselves under a hail of bullets. “The brave men and women I spoke to took comfort in knowing that they drew the killer’s attention away from civilians,” says Harlig.

With the assistance of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Mendy Harlig, actor Tony Curtis, right, makes a blessing at a public Chanukah menorah lighting ceremony in Henderson, Nev.

“The hotel is familiar to me, and I know the people there,” said the rabbi, co-director of Chabad of Green Valley in Henderson, Nev. “I have been there for kosher certification and other times. This is hitting very close to home for all of us.

“The sight of blood on the floor and a truck filled with so many bodies—these are the images seared into my mind, but we need to keep on moving. Each of us is doing our part to extend a helping hand wherever we can.”

Harlig, who has been on duty since late last night, plans on spending the day offering support to victims and their families, in addition to the hard-working police officers and hotel staff. “The feelings are still very raw,” says the rabbi. “The one perspective I can give people is that this is a dark moment for us, and what we need to do is add as much light as we possibly can.”
During the many times Tony Curtis welcomed Rabbi Mendy Harlig to his Henderson, Nev., home, the actor donned the Jewish prayer boxes known as tefillin

He has been working closely with the Israeli consulate and local police as they seek to identify if Israelis are among the victims. As of Monday morning, it is believed that no Israelis were dead or wounded, with only four remaining individuals to be accounted for, according to Harlig. Looking through lists of names and other data, he has not located any Jewish people among victims.

”Last night, a fellow chaplain told me that he met the parents of a Jewish female who had been wounded,” said the rabbi, speaking from the Los Vegas Fusion Center. “There was so much chaos that I did not get her name. It may take as many as 12 hours until everyone is properly identified.

“Right now, people need of our prayers,” he continued. “There are families who have been sucked into dark grief, and there are people struggling for their lives in hospitals. Please, take a moment to say a chapter of Psalms, speak to G‑d and ask Him to heal the the hearts that have been broken, the lives that have been shattered and the fractures in our society.”