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Temple Beth El

Offering Conservative Jewish worship since 1935

83 Chestnut Street/POBox 383
Oneonta, NY 13820
Phone: (607) 432-5522

President’s Column — September 2017

In 2017, who would imagine that white nationalists would lash out as they have in Charlottesville? Further shocking news was that Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville had their Shabbat morning service interrupted by armed neo-Nazis bearing swastika flags and chanting “Seig Heil” in their front yard causing them to evacuate with their Torahs through the back door. The following statements from American Judaism’s largest religious denominations attest to the outrage felt by Jewish communities everywhere.

From the Orthodox Union
The leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America is appalled by the violence and expressions of hatred that took place in Charlottesville, Va. Displays of hate, bigotry and racism by those who proudly associate themselves with white supremacy and Nazism are antithetical to the fundamental American values that have made this nation a home to people of diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

From the Rabbinic Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
The Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are shocked and horrified by the violent demonstrations of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and their sympathizers in Charlottesville, Virginia this past Saturday which resulted directly in the deaths of one civilian and two state police officers and in many other serious injuries. We applaud the swift and effective actions of Mayor Mike Signer of Charlottesville and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, as well as their appropriate condemnations of the bigotry, antisemitism and hatred that inspired the rally itself. Many leaders have taken the indispensable step of naming the dangerous philosophies and movements that united these demonstrators. These events have been rightly labeled as incidents of domestic terror by both Democrats and Republicans.

From Union of Reform Judaism
The vile presence and rhetoric of the neo-Nazis who marched this weekend in Charlottesville is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to stand strong, to speak loudly against hate, and act both to delegitimize those who spread such messages and to mitigate the harm done to the commonweal of our nation and to those that are the targets of hate messages. Racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic views have no place in a society that cherishes freedom and liberty for all. The right to speak and to hold repugnant views is not a right to circumscribe the ability of others to live in peace and security. Torch-lit marches of hate evoke the KKK; the image of a heavily armed “militia” standing among the neo-Nazi protestors should send an alarm to every person of good conscience in our nation.

We have witnessed the kind of anti-Semitism that led our parents and grandparents to come to America with the hope that their children and grandchildren would never endure the same. It is our duty to speak out against all words and deeds that promote or support hate, regardless of the source. Importantly, we must also maintain hope. The widespread outrage across this nation is an important reminder that the vast majority of Americans are indeed people of good will. I am grateful to live in Oneonta, a community that shares our values of respect, peace, and unity.

One way for us to remain hopeful and strong is to stay active at Temple Beth El and enjoy our synagogue community. In the New Year, let’s commit to gathering together more often. Please refer to the website and The Shofar for events and services in our synagogue. While it might seem difficult to expect sweetness and happiness in America right now, it is more important than ever that we support one another and create as much joy as possible in our lives.

Shanah Tovah.