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STANDING TOGETHER AGAINST HATE
On December 28, 2019, a day on which the Christian Community observes the “slaughtering of the Holy Innocents,” a man with a history of mental illness viciously attacked people gathered inside the home of a Rabbi observing the Seventh Night of Hanukkah.
Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg and members of his Hasidic Community in Monsey, NY, fought back against the intruder who intended to attack the Synagogue next door. Several in the Community called the quick action a “Hanukkah miracle” since the attack could have been far worse than it was. Nonetheless, the attack was horrific. We need only remember the massacre that resulted in the murder of eleven people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA on October 27, 2018.
We, at The Interfaith Peace Project, hope this is the beginning of a “Hanukkah miracle” since we are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of the Jewish Community. The rise of attacks on the Jewish Community during the past year and over the Holiday Season is more than alarming. Elected Jewish Officials in New York are calling on the Governor to declare a state of emergency. Sadly, they wrote:
|“Simply stated, it is no longer safe to be identifiably Orthodox in the State of New York. We cannot shop, walk down the street, send our children to school, or even worship in peace.”|
The psychological difficulties of the attacker do not mitigate the seriousness of this incident. The Jewish Community in Monsey, New York, has suffered threats for simply moving into the local community. The rise in anti-Semitism reflects the loss of memory concerning the Holocaust. We wonder how much time and effort is spent in religious education programs sensitizing students to the horrors of religiously motivated hate. We must confront the irresponsible rhetoric often found in the content of our Social Media. We must continue to challenge the fear and hatred we might harbor in our hearts against anyone. Finally, we must have the courage and willingness of heart to stand with one another in times of trouble.
The Interfaith Peace Project continues to call for a reconsideration of any prayer, belief, or ideology that considers people of faiths other than our own as inferior. The way we worship and gather as a people of faith must reflect our willingness to honor the dignity of all people without prejudice to their faith and beliefs.
We learned in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh massacre, “We are Stronger than Hate!” Today and always, we stand together with the Jewish Community. We will continue to light the candles of hope and peace. We pledge to do everything in our power to ensure that our practice of spirituality honors the dignity and well-being of all. With the worldwide Jewish community, we exclaim, “Never again!”
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P., with the Board of Directors of
The Interfaith Peace Project