This piece by Rabbi Judith Schindler of Temple Beth El in Charlotte first appeared at her temple’s blog, torahbuzz.org:
Sunday, a well-known white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan leader, Frazier Glenn Cross, approached a Jewish Community Center and Jewish Assisted Living with a gun in hand intent on murdering Jews. In an instant three souls were tragically stolen from our world: a grandfather and grandson who belonged to the Church of Resurrection, and the daughter of a female resident of Village Shalom, a Jewish assisted-living facility.
Does Cross not know that the world of hatred belongs to the past?
We left Egypt long ago. We will not allow the fears of pre-Passover pogroms of our past or the neo-Nazi rants of our present to impact our commitment to Jewish celebration and survival.
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Does he not know that America, built upon the promise of religious freedom, has long embraced that centuries-old vision of inclusion?
Jews, Christians, Muslims, and even non-believers workout together at JCCs and YMCAs. They live together in neighborhoods. Together, they feed the hungry, house the homeless, and heal the world. No words or acts of hate can divide us or take away the vision of love articulated by so many of our faiths. Loving God, loving our neighbors, and loving the stranger are ingrained within all of us.
Does he not know that violence will never bring about redemption?
The seder teaches that Elijah will arrive only when doors and hearts are truly opened. The time of peace that Elijah promises requires a commitment to universal compassion and kindness.
Does he not know that hatred against anyone diminishes everyone?
May the victims of Kansas City be sheltered beneath the wings of God’s presence. May the victims’ families be consoled by the global expressions of sympathy being offered. On this eve of Passover, as we recall our painful past, may we commit ourselves to speaking out against hateful words before they become hateful acts and may we create a world that values difference and celebrates diversity.