“Words Matter”

From Rabbi Dan Fink of Boise

(Follow this link to hear Dan’s stirring sermon at Boise’s Cathedral of the Rockies on October 28, 2018)

Dear Friends—

Over the last two days, in the wake of the murders in the Pittsburgh synagogue, so many Boiseans have reached out to me, asking how they can be of help to the Jewish community. I’d like to offer a response. It’s personal, as neither I nor anyone else can speak for the entire Jewish community. It’s also public, so I would encourage you to share with any and all of your friends and allies.

I am grateful to all who have opened their hearts to us. Thank you for extending your comfort, and for mourning with us. Throughout the twenty four years that I have served as a rabbi in Boise, I have never ceased to be thankful for the power of the partnerships that sustain us in times of grief and struggle. We need one another.

I believe that as we move forward, we should be thinking of this latest tragedy as something that goes far beyond the Jewish community. This one involved my people. Previous acts of hateful violence have targeted people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, Muslims, and others. We do not know who will be next—though, sadly, we know that there will inevitably be a next, and likely far too soon. There are two common denominators to these atrocities: they involve the use (abuse) of guns, which are all too readily available, and they thrive in the kind of environment of bigotry that is fostered by President Trump and his cronies. It is no accident that the Pittsburgh shooter focused on HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society—the group that sponsored the ancestors of the vast majority of American Jews and continues to support both Jewish and non-Jewish refugees. When the president refers to immigrants as “infestations”, there are consequences. When he follows his token words of comfort by pandering to the extreme right anti-Semitic conspiracy folks, laughing about George Soros, “lock him up”–well, we are reaping the brutality that he has sown.

So I would like to see a citywide event that brings us together across ethnic and religious lines, an event that proclaims no to all kinds of hate—directed at Jews and Muslims and all the other groups I’ve noted above. We cannot let the bigots divide us. We need to stand together. Perhaps this latest atrocity might help us move in that direction. Perhaps the Anne Frank Memorial would be the right place for such an event.

Oh yes, and when anyone asks me what they can do in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s horrors, my first response is: Vote.

More about Temple Beth Israel click here – Celebrating Idaho’s Jewish community and its pioneering founders, 1895.  L’chaim – To Life! Post and message provided by Karen Ertter Smith.  Thank you. 

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