Understandably, the hate that was on full display in the streets of Charlottesville deeply affected us. We want to know what we can do to make a difference, to stand up to hate and to ensure that the words “Never Again” are not just words – but a reality. There are many ways we can make a difference. We can support one or more of the organizations that stand up to hate. We can get involved politically, aligning ourselves with local and national leaders who embrace morals and values that promote pluralism, inclusivity and tolerance. We can actively protest individuals and organizations that promote hate. We can educate ourselves about the many issues that divide our community today and share what we learn with others. We can practice random acts of kindness. There are many things that we can do.
Last Friday night, we gathered together at Ramat Shalom for our Unite the Light service. I heard from many who attended that they just wanted to be together, to be with others who understand the many emotions that Charlottesville stirred up inside of them, to pray and sing and talk in a place where they belong. I heard from folks for whom Charlottesville made them realize that it was time to connect or reconnect with the Jewish community in a deep and meaningful way – again, because they want a place where they belong. There was an article published on Kveller last week entitled After Charlottesville, I’m Finally Joining A Synagogue. I encourage you to read it as it reflects many of the thoughts and feelings that people have shared with me over the past several days.
Yes, as a Jewish community, we need to come together after the horrific events in Charlottesville. But, people can’t develop meaningful relationships with synagogues and other Jewish organizations because of hate. My hope is that those who are seeking to connect or reconnect with the Jewish community quickly discover the warmth, acceptance, support and all the other wonderful things that come with community. The hate of extremists might be the impetus for some to seek us out right now. But the love of community will be what keeps people connected. For those of us who were connected long before Charlottesville, now is the time to show folks the true power of community.
You can do just this by joining us tonight at Ramat Shalom’s Welcome Back Shabbat! Come eat, sing, pray, eat some more, laugh and connect with your community. Some of us will be eating dinner together before services which start at 7:30PM. (Please note: while we’d love to have you, our dinner is now sold out.) Bring your family and friends. I’ll see you there. If you can’t join us in person, join us online.