Just last night at Rodeph Shalom, we experienced the remarkable performance of Broadway and TV star Tovah Feldshuh in Dancing With Giants. What is striking about the play is the friendship of the characters, crossing racial and religious barriers to come together, particularly during the 1930’s and the rise of Nazi Germany, a time of disinformation and political upheaval.
With this perspective, we are writing regarding our view, articulated in the press release below, on how we respond to the Alt-Right rally by the “Proud Boys,” an organization with anti-Semitic, white supremacist, and anti-immigrant views, to be held near Independence Mall on Shabbat, November 17.
It is vital for our congregation to teach our Jewish values, to be aware of bigotry, and to stand against hate. But it is also important to avoid bringing extra attention to hate groups and to avoid allowing them to hijack our community’s practice of Judaism, especially on Shabbat.
How powerful it is when we are together on Shabbat, teaching Torah, caring for others in our community, and living our Jewish values.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Philadelphia, PA- November 15, 2018
In anticipation of the upcoming Alt-Right rally in Philadelphia, Congregation Rodeph Shalom is encouraging its community to join together in worship at our congregation, as we do each week. We believe that we resist hate when we more deeply and joyfully engage in our Jewish lives. Our Jewish tradition teaches us to come together, to pray, to perform acts of justice, and to study Jewish values such as this one taught by the Talmud: “The first person was created alone, for the sake of peace among people, so that no one could say to another, ‘My ancestor was greater than yours.”
It is the goal of those holding extreme right wing anti-Semitic, white supremacist, and anti-immigrant views, to create conflict. To avoid helping them to create a newsworthy counter-protest, we have chosen to ignore them, to live our Jewish lives, and on our own terms, to make clear our Jewish values.
We remain grateful to the multi-faith community in Philadelphia who, in the wake of tragedies such as Charlottesville and Pittsburgh, has stood with us in solidarity and whose steadfast presence in our lives reminds us the bigots remain on the fringe and cannot be normalized. When those from other religions and groups feel vulnerable, we stand with them as well. The bonds of love that we share cannot be broken.