Stronger Together: Shabbat of Peace, Not Hate

Posted on February 24, 2023 by Cantor Risa Wallach and Gary Cohen, president

Dear Temple Beth-El community,

It is unfortunate that once again we must address antisemitism in our own country. The Anti-Defamation League has notified Jewish communities of very disturbing events planned for this weekend with the following message:

‘White supremacist groups are trying to organize antisemitic activities as a “National Day of Hate” throughout this coming weekend and especially this Saturday. While ADL is not aware of any specific threats, we know that these groups are hoping for increased antisemitic flier distributions, protests and graffiti. We know this is frightening; it is completely unacceptable that the Jewish community — or any community — should be targeted by extremists spreading hate and alarm.

The hate groups behind this effort hope that we will be afraid and isolated. Instead, we are coming together in resolve and solidarity.’

Past experience has shown that as Jews, we have weathered millennia of threats and acts of violence against our people. A wonderful Yiddish expression states:

‘Mir veln zey iberlebn’
We will outlive them! (note)

This expression originates in the Holocaust, and speaks to the indomitable spirit that keeps us unified, defiant in the face of baseless hatred, and deeply rooted in our magnificent heritage of Jewish life, faith and practice.

In our Torah portion this week, parashat Terumah, we read the following words often found scribed across the walls of synagogues and decorating the doors of the ark where Torah scrolls are kept:

‘Va’asu li mikdash, v’shochanti b’tocham.’
Build me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.

On this Shabbat, let us make our temple community a sanctuary for love, for compassion, for safety, for praising God, for joining in prayer, for beautiful singing, for rest and connection. We will not be frightened into staying away from our houses of worship. #ShabbatOfPeaceNotHate

The caricature that those who hate have created of us and other marginalized groups is an illusory target for their deep fear and confusion. It will never succeed in defeating our spirits. At Temple Beth-El, we are Stronger Together, Chazakim B’yachad.

We are all wishing you and your family Shabbat shalom!

Cantor Risa Wallach

Gary Cohen, president