2016-08-03 / Voice at the Shore

Community unity during trying times

Beth El Synagogue, Margate

Cantor Ralph Goren with Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz at a recent interfaith service in Atlantic City. Cantor Ralph Goren with Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz at a recent interfaith service in Atlantic City. The whole world is witnessing a tremendous amount of turmoil —terrorist attacks, shootings by and of police officers, on top of a long list of school shootings and a whole history of shootings in a variety of venues. Thankfully, in the face of these tragedies, our local community has chosen to come together—to strengthen our bonds of friendship and understanding with others who are different from us, rather than to echo the hatred and violence experienced elsewhere.

Earlier this summer, there was an anniversary memorial service for the victims of last year’s attack on a Charleston, South Carolina church. Representatives of the local Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities participated in a moving service in Atlantic City, spearheaded by Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz. The service (which took place before the slayings in Minnesota, Baton Rouge and Dallas) also mentioned and mourned victims of the attack on the Orlando nightclub.

More terrorist attacks ensued after that service. Our community then followed through on a plan to host a joint Muslim/Jewish Ramadan program. The decision to go through with this event was controversial, but thanks to the support of Beth El Rabbi Aaron Krauss and of Kaleem Shabazz, who is also president of the Masjid Muhammed Mosque in Atlantic City, the event went ahead as scheduled at Beth El Synagogue. There was a presentation by Muslim representatives as to what the month of Ramadan is all about, followed by a brief evening service (Mahgrib) for Muslim participants and an Iftar (break-thefast) dinner. Notably, because Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during their 30-day Ramadan observance, Iftar dinners happen every evening during Ramadan.

Then came the slayings in Minnesota, Dallas and Baton Rouge. The local community responded with a memorial service in Atlantic City for police officers and others unjustly slain in this tragic, continuing conflict. Ironically, that memorial service was scheduled even before the tragedy in Baton Rouge.

Our community should be proud that we take the initiative to come together in the face of tragedy. Many thanks go to Kaleem Shabbazz who is often in the forefront of all these community get-togethers, as well as to Rabbi Krauss, who also takes a lot of initiative. Kudos also to Rabbi Gerald Fox, president of the Board of Rabbis and Cantors, and to Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, president of the Downbeach Ministerium, a group of multi-denominational clergy, for encouraging participation. All of these leaders and organizations are helping keep our community unified in the face of terrible events. It’s important for members of the Jewish community and the community at large to support any and all of the events that show our concern for what is happening in the world.

Community Corner is a periodic column in Voice at the Shore featuring guest-written articles by members of Jewish organizations and other community members. If you are interested in contributing to this column, please contact Voice shore editor Ellen Weisman Strenger at ewstrenger@jfedsnj.org or (856) 751- 9500, extension 3037. 

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