There are 12 souls who can no longer do goodness in this world, so it’s up to everyone else to do so for them. That was the message that Rabbi Chaim Bryski was delivering just hours after a gunman attacked a club filled with young adults in the community he serves in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Bryski, co-director of Chabad of Thousand Oaks with his wife, Shula, spent much of Thursday trying to help his community any way he could. At 6:15 in the morning, he headed just 1,000 feet away from his home and Chabad House to the Thousand Oaks Teen Center. There, families were gathered to await news of their loved ones.

“The families were in shock,” he recalled. It was the first, but not the last time he’d sit with them that day. Bryski went by in the afternoon to try and comfort those who were waiting for the heartbreaking news to come.


Bryski also visited Los Robles Regional Medical, where he serves as a chaplain. Though there were no patients from the shooting there—those who were injured and survived had been treated and released—he went to pay his respects to law enforcement.

A dozen people, including Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus and numerous college students, were murdered in the attack on the Borderline Bar & Grill late Wednesday night. The shooting was the fourth such incident in recent weeks in the United States, including the massacre of 11 Jews during Shabbat-morning services on Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. (Two people were shot outside a supermarket in Kentucky on Oct. 24, and four people were killed at a yoga studio in Florida on Nov. 2)

“The Honor Guard was there at the hospital with the body of Sergeant Helus for the processional [through town]. I went over and shook everyone’s hands, and offered my condolences,” the rabbi said, his voice heavy with emotion. “I just wanted to thank them and let them know how grateful I am for what they do.”

“We have to spread the message of the Lubavitcher Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory] and bring light into the world. We have obligation to do selfless acts of kindness to people, whether we think they deserve it or not,” said Bryski. “Call someone you don’t like, someone you don’t normally talk to especially family members. Bring more lovingkindness into this world.”