Shabbat Evening, May 28
The essence of community is relationships. We reach out to support each other, hang out, have fun, learn, pray and celebrate together. This past week, another level of the importance and meaning of relationships came into focus.
As you know, on Saturday night, May 2, graffiti was discovered on the back of our building – a “$” and the words “Merry Christmas”.
While on the surface this seems like it is an adolescent prank, it is nevertheless a hate crime and is being treated by the police as such. I am not scared of the person who did this – I do not feel threatened – but I am concerned about the ignorance and the roots of this kind of expression. We were one of three synagogues desecrated in the Boston area just this week (Pawtucket and Andover) – and that a convenience store in Salem was painted with an anti-Arab slur (the store is actually owned by a family originally from India).
On Thursday at 7:00 we will hold a community conversation about anti-Semitism and intolerance with the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. I hope you will be here.
But here is what I want to focus on tonight.
The support from the mayor, the chief of police, Christian clergy, the North Shore rabbis, friends, neighbors, and strangers has been amazing. We might see some ignorant comments on the Beverly Facebook Page – which, by the way, were mostly addressed by our non-Jewish neighbors – but the overwhelming response has been outrage and support.
Our intentions are to continue to build and deepen connections in our congregation and in our larger community. As our President Alan Pierce said at the end of the Fox news interview, “Acts of anti-Semitism or racial intolerance or bigotry or gay bashing are happening in the schools and happening in people’s homes and it’s affecting all of us.” It’s effecting all of us.
The most energetic support I received was from my friends who are Beverly or North Shore ministers – many of them came to our home to celebrate Passover, and I have been to their homes. We share an understanding of the kind of society we want to build – one based on tolerance, respect, and justice.
The First Baptist Church posted a powerful statement of condemnation and support – and hope that we can all work together for tikkun olam – yes, they used the Hebrew term tikkun olam, world repair. The desecration of our building was a personal for our friends.
Pastor Kent Harrop wrote in his blog about how to combat the growing polarization we see in our society – He talked about the programs we do together – the contemplative kayaking, the “Baptist minister and rabbi walk into a bar” – and about our friendship. “The antidote to prejudice is getting to know someone from a different circle, with a different perspective. The antidote is as simple as sharing a meal. It’s not about building walls it’s about tearing them down. It’s about building friendships. It’s about coming together. Who are you planning on getting to know?”
This is not a time for simple outrage. This is a time to listen to each other and to work together. This is a time to build and deepen relationships.
Think of one person you might reach out to – and invite him or her to coffee. Come to our community conversation on Thursday. Participate in our interfaith programs.
Relationships are what we need to move forward – not just to combat hate and ignorance, but also to feel more connected as we move through our lives.