tree of life

The Essence of Community

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.

Community Conversation with the ADL

JOIN US FOR A TBA COMMUNITY CONVERSATION ABOUT
ANTI-SEMITISM AND INTOLERANCE
Thursday, June 2, 2016 at 7:00

Facilitated by Robert Trestan from the Anti-Defamation League and Rabbi Alison Adler

Temple B’nai Abraham

On May 21 our beloved synagogue building was vandalized. This act now inspires an opportunity to discuss our reactions and concerns in a safe space, and to reflect on where we go from here.             Friends are welcome.

update

Mayor Cahill’s Message of Support

We thank Mayor Mike Cahill and Chief of Police John LeLacheur who have been extremely supportive and responsive to the desecration of our building.  The Mayor’s statement is below.  We also thank all of the North Shore rabbis and Beverly clergy who have expressed their solidarity as well as neighbors and friends.   This is a time to stand together and we feel supported by our larger community.

TO: Media

FROM: Mayor Michael P. Cahill – Beverly, MA

DATE: May 23, 2016

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Response to Vandalism from Alan Pierce and Rabbi Alison Adler

Dear Temple B’nai Abraham Community,

Vandalism was discovered near the back door of our beloved synagogue on Saturday night.

As far as hate crimes go, this ranks up there with “stupid” rather than vile (the perpetrator/s spray painted a dollar sign and “Merry Christmas”). But it hits home. The police were called and a report was filed, and Alan is in touch with Mayor Cahill.

We discussed this news at our Congregational Meeting on Sunday morning and have decided that we would like to have a community conversation – not solely about this act of vandalism, but about anti-Semitism in general and any fears or feelings we have as we read about incidents around our country and world.