Offering Loving Support to Our Jewish Friends

Mark Johnson | October 29, 2018

 IMPORTANT CHANGE OF VENUE: Please note that due to the positive response we’ve had in the community we are moving the event across the street to the Fayette County School District Office on Main. We thank FCPS for lending us their auditorium. 701 East Main Street


Like many of you, I've been in contact with Jewish friends and colleagues to assure them of my personal support and prayers throughout this heartbreaking aftermath of the vile and senseless violence experienced this past Saturday in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue.  

Rabbi Marc Kline, previously at Temple Adath Israel (TAI) in Lexington, and now serving Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, New Jersey shared a message with me that he sent to his congregation Monday night.  I'll conclude with his words below.

But in the meantime, I would also like to invite you to a special joint Community Service of remembrance, prayer, and solidarity sponsored by TAI, Ohavay Zion Synagogue, Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass and the Chavurah.  It will take place this Wednesday night, Oct. 31st at 7:30 p.m. at the Temple (124 N. Ashland Avenue).  All in the community are invited to attend.

Now, please hear from Rabbi Kline:

"This weekend, the world witnessed the largest anti-Semitic attack on American soil. Our hearts ache for the synagogue, for the families of all who were slain, terrorized, and forever scarred. People in prayer, a baby being named, visitors seeking a faithful welcome, and police officers who work to ensure our safety: these were today’s targets. The shooter is a man who simply hates Jews.

Our souls torment over the reality that over the course of 300 days of 2018, this is the 284th mass shooting. This number does not include the bombs mailed to nationally prominent members of the political opposition, including our immediate past president, his wife, and his children. Just days ago, a white man walked through Krogers grocery store in Louisville, KY, shooting a black grandfather buying his son posterboard for a school project. He walked by another white man telling him that he only wanted to shoot black people and then walked into the parking lot and shot another black senior citizen.
Our sensibilities stand enraged that churches, synagogues, mosques, grocery stores, and even our private homes are not havens from the hate and violence so emboldened in our days. We are angry. We are angry that people spend more time pointing fingers and arguing over power than they do acknowledge humanity.

This is not about politics. No one asked for the voting cards of today’s victims. We live in a world wherein we have come to expect this news, praying that it is not in our homes. 

It is time for us to do something different. We do a tremendous amount of good work in this community. We will need to do more. It is incumbent on us to be angry enough to act – to get out of our places of comfort to create relationships, to foster appreciation, and to grow a coalition of like-minded people who will walk arm in arm to turn back this madness. Dr. King taught us that hate will not drive out hate, only love can do that. Well, we love our families and love our community and that love must bring us past the platitudes and vocalized prayers of healing into the work of engagement. 

We need gun safety. We need character education. We need to learn that our religious tradition is valueless if it does not cause every member of our community to join in this work of bridge building and trust building. There is no room for bigotry or elitism, or for fear of the other. There is no other … or in the eyes of many, we are the other and we must engage them in education and community growth. The time for “not wanting” our congregation to be involved in this sacred work is gone. We will not wait until it comes into our home to decide to then get angry, feel violated, and then act. 

The great sage Elie Wiesel said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor and never the tormented.” They have come for the socialist. They have come for the trade unions. They have come for the minorities and weakest amongst us. Today, they came for the Jews. We have no choice but to speak and to act … to act in ways that open the eyes of people blinded by hate and fear, to open the hearts of those scarred by years of oppression and pain, to open the gates of teshuvah for a world in need of a new paradigm, a new embrace, a renewed sense of hope."

Thank you, Marc.  Now, may all of us, Christians, Jews, and all others working toward a better world of dignity, peace and goodwill speak up, stand up, and rise up with love in hearts and steel in our spines.

3 months


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