Letter: Gathering In Solidarity In Response To The Attacks In New Zealand

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Last week at the Hillside Islamic Center, clergy, community leaders and the public gathered for an hour of solidarity with the Muslim community.

As this group so passionately responded to the shootings in Pittsburgh, many of us responded similarly to the murder of worshipers in New Zealand.

Along with colleagues of all religions, as well as Nassau County’s political leadership, I had a brief opportunity to share some thoughts, which follow.

Shalom Aleikhem. Look how similar the Hebrew and Arabic greetings of peace are.

No matter how many of us share personal words and sentiments tonight, our future actions will matter most.

As the Muslim community stood in solidarity with the Jewish people after Pittsburgh, I—and others of the Jewish faith—stand tonight with our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith, as together we work toward the repair of humanity.

Although I represent a community, tonight I must begin with myself:

I pledge to continuously teach Judaism’s message about honoring all of creation throughout my words and actions.

I pledge to reach out—indefatigably—to anyone in our community who dismisses the cherished values of love, respect, dignity and tolerance.

If the effort demands extending myself to individuals one at a time, I will not rest until the mission is accomplished.

I pledge to honor the rabbinic teachings of the ancient rabbinic scholar Hillel, who insisted that his students learn, absorb and respect all sides of a dispute—and to do so with the greatest of reverence.

I pledge to extend my arms and embrace all of humanity, regardless of religion or differences in political ideology.

Finally, I pledge to honor the rabbinic teaching from my tradition. Ben Zoma said, “Who is honored? One who honors all of creation.”

Tonight, our prayers all reflect a similar language and spirit.

May these prayers bind together and extend not only to the furthest boundaries of the heavens, but to the deepest and most inner sanctums of our hearts.

Whatever our interfaith conflicts, people of various faith communities need to join together to pursue a peaceful world.

—Rabbi Michael Klayman
Lake Success Jewish Center

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