We keep hearing the term neo-Nazi to describe these alt-right, white supremacists. But this new Nazi is the same as the old Nazi. They spew the same racist, xenophobic, antisemitic vile rhetoric. We’ve seen this before and if left unchecked, we know where this leads. We know the intention of this band of bigots – to protest diversity, to protest inclusivity, protest blacks, protest foreigners, and to protest Jews. And I stand here before you as an American Jew, a mother, and a person of faith to say this hatred has no place in a society that cherishes freedom and liberty for all people.
I was asked tonight to provide some support and hope in the face of this chaos and it is not an easy task but I offer this. Rather than holding onto the horrifying images and sounds from Charlottesville this past Saturday, hold onto the image of people of faith marching arm in arm singing out in solidarity as they stared down those filled with hate. And hold onto the image of the thousands of protestors who came to defend human rights, diversity and each other.
At the heart of our tradition is the core teaching that every human being — every one of us – regardless of religion, race, gender, identity – every one of us is made b’tzelem Elohim – in the image of the highest we can imagine, the Divine. Therefore, we are all infinitely worthy, deserving of dignity, integrity, respect, and love. We must stand together in times of chaos not only to offer words of condemnation and disgust, or even words of comfort, but to stand together to do the hard work of fighting for and healing our country.
In closing, I offer these words of prayerful healing*:
Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu
Holy One of Blessing, hate has been visited upon our community
Some of us are understandably feeling afraid and vulnerable.
All of us are angry and feel the brokenness of our country.
We pray that from our fear comes compassion so we can pursue justice not revenge, peace not more violence.
May wisdom come from our anger, so we can see that an attack against any one of us is an attack against all of us. May we come together in common cause with all those who are oppressed and targeted.
And may healing come from the brokenness. Help us to seek the place where evil/despair/rage do not hold sway. Don’t get stuck in anxiety or despair. Stay grounded, stay connected to others, and together let us sing our way into inviting abundance back into the world – abundance of love, of hope and of commitment to justice.
May the shelter of Your peace spread over us and over all who dwell on earth.
And let us say, Amen.
*Closing prayer adapted from “A Prayer for Healing After a Hate Crime” by Rabbi Seth Goldstein
***Photos by Brittany Anzel App