Shabbat Shalom: How many of you felt the same way?
Last weekend was supposed to be a joyous one. Although the end of Passover should have been full of happiness, yet another shooting at a Jewish house of worship took that from us. As I learned about the victims, my heart fell further. At the Alliance, we immediately began thinking about the safety of our local synagogues, and we are thankful that local law enforcement proactively reached out to us to help increase security throughout greater Rhode Island. Then we began thinking about what we would say about this tragedy.
As I began writing our statement, I was struck by one thing in particular. Many statements begin with the phrase, “We are shocked and saddened…” As I started the first sentence I recognized that I could no longer use the word “shocked”, and that realization was devastating to me. It is no longer shocking that a gunman or a suicide bomber would enter a house of worship with the intent to kill. In the last six months we have seen attacks on synagogues, mosques, and churches. On Saturday I was sad, but not surprised. I wonder how many of you felt the same way?
This week also marked Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. As I sat and took in our community’s thoughtful commemoration at Temple Emanu-El, I thought about the concept of “never again.” We commemorate the Holocaust to remember the victims, but also to reassert the fact that we should never again accept the extermination of a people. Never again should people be persecuted for their beliefs, yet this is the second attack on a synagogue in the last six months. In America. In 2019.
So how do we reinforce the concept of “never again,” when our society allows these things to happen on a regular basis? How do we confront anti-Semitism and white supremacy head-on? I admit that I don’t have all of the answers to these essential questions, but I commit to all of you that I will not stop asking them. The Alliance will not stop working to ensure our community is safe, to call out anti-Semitism regardless of its origin, and to work with others to confront white supremacy in our country.
Join us on Thursday, May 30
at the Jewish Alliance as we welcome Robert Trestan, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Robert will lead a diverse group of panelists in reflecting on the concerning rise of hate crimes and anti-Semitism, and share perspectives and tools for combating hatred.
Let us all commit to these efforts so that violence in places of worship becomes not just rare, but non-existent.
Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat.
President & CEO