Statement on Latest Attacks on Jewish Cemetery, Mosques and Indian Visitors

RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2017

T’ruah grieves for the recent spate of hate-crimes against Jews and Muslims. Our pain at the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia is intense, conjuring up so many of our people’s darkest times and worst fears. Just as Judaism teaches that burying the dead is the highest form of kindness that one can show, for the dead cannot return the favor, so too is defacing the dead an extreme form of attack, for the dead have no way to defend themselves.

And we share the fear and pain of our community as JCCs and Jewish Day Schools have been hit with yet another wave of bomb threats. Scaring children is an act of cowardice aimed at making our entire Jewish community feel less safe in America.

Our pain is different but no less severe at the arson perpetrated on a mosque in Tampa, and the murder and attempted murder of two men from India—targeted because they were foreigners—in Kansas. A hate-motivated attack on one religious minority is an attack on all of us and makes us all fearful of what America may become.

And these are only the latest in a serious surge in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic acts since the 2016 election, which have been fanned by the rhetoric of President Trump and his advisors and allies, and by their faint condemnations.

The ancient Temples in Jerusalem were the symbol of society and its cohesion. The Talmud (Yoma 9b) teaches, “The First Temple was destroyed because it was full of three things: idol worship, sexual violence, and murder…But the Second Temple, in which they occupied themselves with Torah, mitzvot, and deeds of kindness, why was it destroyed? Because of baseless hatred, to teach that baseless hatred is as weighty as the three prior sins—idol worship, sexual violence, and murder—combined.”

Prejudice and hatred have the power to unravel a society and lead to its demise. We must stand united against them and continue to build America as the country it has the potential to be: one of justice, freedom, and peace for all people. We express deep gratitude to the Muslim communities who have raised over $100,000 to repair the cemetery vandalized in St. Louis, and we remain resolved to fight aggression and intimidation by all nonviolent means at our disposal. We call on President Trump to condemn this wave of hate crimes in the strongest terms possible, to make a strong statement that diversity makes America stronger, and to make full use of the resources of the Federal government to investigate these crimes.