2016-07-20 / Editorial

Interfaith solidarity event at Emanuel supports LGBT community

RABBI LAWRENCE R. SERNOVITZ Temple Emanuel


Over 300 attended the “Stand Up Against Hate” Solidarity Rally at Temple Emanuel. Over 300 attended the “Stand Up Against Hate” Solidarity Rally at Temple Emanuel. On the morning of June 12, Jewish communities around the country, and around the world, were celebrating the festival of Shavuot, Z’man Matan Torateinu, the Season of the Giving of the Torah. For the Jewish people, the Torah is our guide, our compass, the path we take to find meaning and purpose in this world. It is a reminder of our covenant with God and with humankind. We read the Ten Commandments, the basic foundation of civil society, loving God and loving our neighbors, no matter who they are. Unfortunately, the events in Orlando at the Pulse Nightclub shattered the sanctity of what would otherwise have been a holy and sacred day.

Orlando was about hatred against the LGBT community, pure and simple. It was an attack on democracy, on the ability and right of each individual to love who you want to love and the freedom to be yourself. The United States of America guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Life, however, comes first. Our founders were explicit in their language and the order of these basic tenets of American society. Judaism teaches us not to stand by idly while our neighbor bleeds, especially at the hands of an assault rifle that does not need to be on the streets of America.

At Temple Emanuel we felt there must be a community response so we quickly planned a solidarity event on Wednesday, June 15, entitled “Stand Up Against Hate.” Over 300 individuals attended the event and drew from a diversity of faith traditions, including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Elected and community officials were present, including Cherry Hill Town Council President David Fleisher, Police Chief Bud Monaghan, and Jewish Federation CEO Jen Weiss. Morshad Saami Hossain of the Islamic Center of Voorhees and Rev. Marilyn Dixon Hill of the Camden Bible Tabernacle Church were also present and offered words of comfort from their faith traditions. Rabbi Nathan Weiner of Cong. Beth Tikvah, Temple Emanuel student Gabrielle Dyess, and Lee Rosenfield of Garden State Equality inspired us all with their own personal words of healing and action.

This solidarity event showed that hate cannot defeat love and hope will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those who believe. May we, as a greater South Jersey community, never lose hope and always stand up to hatred and the forces that seek to destroy the democracy that we cherish here in the United States of America. Once again, it is the time to heed the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel as he marched in Selma, “I felt like my feet are praying.”

May God continue to give us the strength and courage to turn our prayers into action so we may bring tikkun, repair, to our broken world.

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