|Fight Hatred By Doing Deeds of Loving-Kindness With Your Temple|
I remember exactly where I was on the day of the deadliest antisemitic attack in America’s history. It was October 27th, 2018 when 11 Jews were killed in Pittsburgh.
My wife, and our three children were living across-the-street from the most heavily guarded building in the Middle East, the American Embassy in Jerusalem. Our home was on a slope directly overlooking the embassy grounds. It was Shabbat afternoon and our kids were watching, from our windows, hordes of embassy children in costumes at a Halloween party. Before I could say “Boo” our 7, 5 and 3-year-olds were in costumes begging to go. We went across the street, a Dad with three kids in silly clothes, and walked straight into the embassy. Nobody stopped us for ID. My kids joined over a hundred embassy children running around the embassy trick-or-treating. After two hours, an official wearing photo ID asked me “Are you newly posted to the embassy?” “No,” I said. “I am your neighbor across the street. My kids saw the party and wanted to join.” My interrogator blanched and said “Oh.” Walking home I recall feeling uneasy about how vulnerable the embassy was. Then I glanced at my cell phone and saw the news about the tragic attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh.
This week marks three years since that tragic day. On the Yahrzeit Vice President Kamala Harris said “When a white supremacist murdered and injured innocent people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, a harm was committed against all of us. It was an unspeakable act fueled by antisemitic hate, the deadliest attack on the American Jewish community in our Nation’s history. Today, we know that silence is not an option. More hate crimes were committed in the U.S. last year than at any point in the last 20 years. We are working to reduce gun violence. President Biden has taken executive action to protect houses of worship, and he has signed legislation to bolster our capacity to counter acts of hate. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community. We will never forget those lives that were taken. And we recommit to combat antisemitism wherever it exists.”
Here in our community we fight hatred by reaching out to our neighbors with love. On Sunday, November 21 at 4pm our Temple will host the Westchester Muslim Center, Antioch Baptist Church, the Bedford Presbyterian Church and others for our annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Our social action committee is leading us in making more than 3,000 meals to feed the hungry during Thanksgiving. This week our brand-new “Teen Justice Center” held its inaugural event with a great teen turn-out. Next week we are hosting guests from the Emergency Shelter for the Homeless. Please join us in these important programs that spread the Torah’s message of “Love your Neighbor.” Together we can make a difference.
Rabbi David Wilfond