On Thursday night, January 16 our community came together for a gathering of peace, pride and love. It was heart-warming to see the more than 80 people that came out on this cold January night. The community gathering was a response to recent attacks on Jewish people in New York City, Monsey, NY and New Jersey. Unfortunately, there is not a shortage of hate right now. It is on the news, on the web and in some cases close to home; such as in Owego, NY where a home owner has chosen to paint a swastika on the outside of his residence. Violent crimes against other marginalized groups such as black, Muslim, and transgender people are also on the rise. Why do some people find it so easy to hate? Did you ever notice that hate and anger take a lot of energy to maintain? What I know is that we all have the responsibility to speak out against prejudice of any kind. As Jews we are taught to show respect for one another, to uplift those in need and be mindful of our own biases.
One of the missions of the Jewish Federation is to build a caring community. Those that attended the community gathering left feeling more connected. We said prayers for the victims of violence, for our country, for Israel and for peace. Rabbi Shmaryahu of Hillel Academy and community member Steve Gilbert led us in song. Rabbi Aaron Slonim of Chabad and Rabbi Zev Silber of Beth David Synagogue each gave brief and personal teachings on the importance of love and tolerance. Rabbi Geoffrey Brown of Temple Israel and Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter Executive Editor, were instrumental in the planning of this event. I extend my gratitude to all who attended and helped to make this night so warm and uplifting. It was yet another example of the compassionate community we have here in Binghamton.