Dear Rabbi Gutherz and President Zimmerman
Natreih Raḥamana u-varkhei – May the Eternal One guard and bless you,
As president of Temple Beth Ora in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, I wish to add our voices to those who have expressed and will express solidarity with you. Having been to the Charlottesville and Cobham areas personally, I know firsthand the beauty and kindness that exists within your community and know both the tender kindness and the strength of Virginians.
As a Jew and as a black man, I also know the stinging pain of racism and “otherness”. As someone who was born in America, I remember watching klan rallies that occurred in my hometown in Ohio. I reflect on the hope that I once had, that my generation would be the generation to end race-based hatred and violence. While I think that there has been progress to celebrate, we must also recognize the work still to be done.
Even living in Canada, we are not immune to damage, graffiti, and threats against our Jewish institutions. There is also a painful truth of mistreatment of visible minorities in this country as well. While often our answer has been to minimize the words, actions, and ideas of those who champion racist ideologies, this has not been effective. We continue to see violence, increasing militancy, and armed conflict from individuals and groups that have at times led to a loss of life.
Our great sage, Hillel, asked of us, “If not now, when?” At this time, we must do more than remain silent, we must stand up. We must call out all forms of hatred, bigotry and intolerance, knowing that we have always been “strangers in a strange land.” Please accept these words on behalf of our congregation, Rabbi Gila Caine and myself and know that we will join you in doing our part to turn hate to hope.
J. Spencer Brawner
Temple Beth Ora