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Shaare Emeth Clergy Respond to Charlottesville

Posted on August 17, 2017 by Rabbi Jim Bennett

As we approach Shabbat and reflect on the events of the past week, we are angered and saddened, though not surprised, by all that has transpired in this nation we love. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the words and actions of white supremacist, neo-Nazi and alt-right groups in Charlottesville, Virginia. We mourn the loss of Heather Heyer, who stood with many other people of conscience, raising their voices against bigotry and hate.

In an interview, Ms. Heyer’s mother said, “I don’t want [Heather’s] death to be a focus for more hatred. I want her death to be a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.”

We take these words to heart and encourage everyone to find their voice and draw upon courage, in order to live out the values we hold dear, by our actions:

Write to elected officials and demand that they take a firm stand, without moral equivocation, against white supremacy in all its forms.

  • Donate to groups like the ADL, Southern Poverty Law Center, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ACLU who are committed to fighting anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms.
  • Talk to your children and grandchildren about our Jewish history and values. Teach them to speak up if they experience any form of discrimination and teach them to speak out if they witness others being subjugated to bigotry in any form.
  • Work to dismantle systemic racism, whether in our criminal justice, economic or education systems.
  • Join us for worship where we will strengthen one another by reminding ourselves that we are part of a community of people who fight for justice and equality and fairness and compassion; a community of people who value diversity, who see the image of God in all people, and who refuse to give in to despair.

We recall the wisdom of Elie Wiesel, who said: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” And we remember the teachings of our tradition: “It is not our responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but we are not free to desist from trying” (Pirkei Avot 2:21).

Together we will raise our voices. Together we will continue the work. Together, we will #bethelightforjustice .

L’shalom,

Rabbi Jim Bennett, Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, Rabbi Jonah Zinn, Cantor Seth Warner & Rabbi Jeff Stiffman

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