Hatred Eclipsed by Love
America has been dealing with white supremacy since our founding, we’ve been dealing with it more openly since the rise of Donald Trump and now, we are dealing with it more acutely here in the Hudson Valley.
Over the weekend, anti-Semitic posters were put up at churches in Beacon, as well as at Marist and Vassar Colleges. We are faced again with what we have always known: there are those who see difference as a threat and who think that those of us who are other - not Christian, not White, not Straight - are a threat that needs to be eradicated.
Needless to say, that is not what our community is about - not now and not ever.
I was gratified that when my clergy colleagues saw the flyers, our relationship was such that they contacted me immediately. For sure, there is hatred in this world, but so too there is always love in the world which can eclipse the hatred, if we are willing to take the risks of love. Our highest calling is to replicate Divine love for humanity in our relations with other humans, and I am grateful that in this frightening moment, my colleagues reached out to me, and to the whole Jewish community, with love.
As our Mayor, Randy Casale, said in response to this hateful act, “I am proud to be the Mayor of a City that has great diversity. This is what makes us a great city. Hate has no place in our community, which is proudly a home to all faiths and backgrounds. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. We are stronger when we work together.”
Attacks like these flyers are an attack not only on the group they target - whether it's Jews, Mexicans, Queers - but also on the very idea that actually makes America great: that we can, should and will be a home to people of all races and religions who come together to build a more perfect union.
Anthony J. Ruggiero, the City Administrator for Beacon has assured us that local law enforcement is aware of this attack and is investigating. We are grateful for the work of law enforcement in pursuing those who sow terror and fear and ensuring that everyone is safe.
While law enforcement does its important work, we all have work to do as well. Our work is to build a yet stronger community together. The clergy are organizing an event tentatively scheduled for the evening of Thursday, Nov 1, and I hope you will be there as a statement of unity in the face of hate. Of course, our efforts to build a more just community in collaboration with other local houses of worship, the Poor People’s Campaign, Habitat for Humanity and others will continue unabated. At BHA, we remain committed to being an inclusive community, welcoming of diversity in all its forms, and to working together to eradicate all forms of oppression.
We remain committed to that work because we inherit the teachings of the Torah, which tell us again and again and again, that we are to love the stranger (Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33). Sometimes we feel settled in this country and the text reminds us that we are to welcome the stranger. Other times though, we are reminded that we are seen by some others as strangers in this land ourselves, often just a few generations away from our familial experiences of migration and escape from persecution.
Hatred grabs the headlines and the attention of the community, but I choose to focus instead on love. The love that can eclipse the hatred if we have the courage to stand together with others, so that they might welcome us and we might welcome them.
May we all heed these teachings of the Torah and together, build a more perfect community and nation. For there will always be hatred in this world, and it is on us to make sure it is always eclipsed by the love in the world.