Shabbat Shalom: From the President 03.10.17

This past Sunday afternoon, roughly 300 individuals braved the bitter cold and powerfully stood together as one at the Rhode Island Holocaust Memorial to denounce acts of hate that have recently been unleashed. This interfaith Vigil Against Hate, which was organized in response to the recent bomb threat called into our Dwares Jewish Community Center, eloquently spoke to the power of a unified community and the necessity for love, not enmity. As we usher in the holiday of Purim, a holiday that celebrates the deliverance of goodness over evil, please allow me once again to share the words that Alliance Board Chair Mitzi Berkelhammer and I spoke at the Vigil to express our gratitude towards to the Rhode Island Muslim Community, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, and all of our other great friends from the Rhode Island interfaith communities who always stand together.

Now my friends, in the wake of this past week’s horrific threat at the Jewish Community Day School, there is no better time that we continue to stand together stronger than ever, and support one another and our Jewish community institutions. Now is the time that we conduct ourselves collectively, fearlessly and vigilantly.

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach, “Never Again,” and only peace and safety for each and every one of us.

Jeffrey K. Savit
President & CEO

Mitzi Berkelhammer’s remarks:

Deuteronomy 1:10 tells us: A community is too heavy for anyone to carry alone.

…So let me start by saying thank you.
Thank you to our elected officials who made time in their busy schedules to come out and support this Vigil Against Hate.
Thank you to the Providence Police Department for redefining what it means to protect and serve-you have been an ally for years and your service is appreciated now more than ever.
Thank you to the members of the media who are here covering this event… We live in a world where acts of hate typically get more attention than acts of love do… so we are grateful for your presence here today.
And thank YOU- Rhode Island’s Interfaith Communities-as well as those of you who are here to show your love and support for all of us.

I’m here to remind you that every story of hate, if you look hard enough, is filled with stories of love. This very public gathering today is a beautiful display of love and we are grateful to you all.

Jeffrey Savit’s remarks:

TheEthic of Reciprocity– often called the Golden Rule — simply states:

All of us are to treat other people as we would wish other people to treat us in return.
Almost all organized religions, philosophical systems, and secular systems of morality include such an ethic. This Golden Rule is intended to be applied to the entire human race. Unfortunately, and far too often, this gets applied only to believers in the same religion, or the same denomination, or the same gender, or the same sexual orientation.
But today, the Golden Rule is on full display and is exactly what it was intended to be…
We must respect each other…
We must love one another…
And we must fight for each other.
Yesterday, we were strangers.
Today, we gather as friends – but when we leave here– we leave as sisters and brothers.
There is simply no room, and instead zero tolerance, for all forms of hatred:
When someone phones in a bomb threat, desecrates a cemetery, places a swastika on public or private property, or fires a shot into a synagogue: We must stand together.
When someone spray paints hate speech on an Islamic school or sets fire to a mosque, or executes people in a house of worship, a school or a dance club:  We must stand together.
When someone is harassed because of whom they love, the color of their skin, or the religion they practice: We must stand together.
Today is not about hate, or fear, or indifference or politics. Today is about love.
The love of our differences — but more importantly — the love of what makes us similar, what makes us a united community.  As Lin-Manuel Miranda so gloriously stated last June, “Love is Love is Love is Love.” And indeed, we must celebrate the collective wisdom of our faith based communities and our sacred texts.
As Jews, we often talk about tikkun olam — or repairing the world. These words are synonymous with social justice and community service. Look around friends. This is tikkun olam in all its glory.
On behalf of Rhode Island’s Jewish community, I thank you all, with my sincerest and heartfelt gratitude, for your love and support.

Shabbat Shalom: From the President 03.10.17

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