Message From Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman
February 17, 2017
21 Shevat 5777
When you walk through the doors of our synagogue these days, you'll see a royal blue poster that states, in bold white letters, "HATE HAS NO HOME HERE." This simple, powerful statement is then translated into different languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish. By putting up this poster, we want to make it abundantly clear that Temple Beth-El will not be a place of division, hate, or xenophobia.
Words alone, however, are not sufficient. In Judaism, it is our deeds that matter. This past week, on Wednesday, February 15th, Confirmation student, Jillian Brosofsky, and I, drove to North Smithfield to the Masjid-Al-Islam mosque to support and participate in Stand with our Muslim Children, a vigil in support of Muslim students who feel besieged in their own schools. When we arrived, we were greeted by enthusiastic Muslim students and their parents who remembered us from their visit to TBE earlier this month. We then received a candle and joined hundreds of others with flames of hope and courage that lit up the parking lot. We also brought with us a folder overflowing with cards of support and sympathy from our RLYGRS students, and within minutes, our cards were posted on a large board for everyone to see.
The speakers - mostly Muslim parents and religious leaders - were cautious, concerned and inspiring. Although their families' lives have not been easy, seeing hundreds of supporters clearly had an impact. The very last speakers, however, were three children; two from the Unitarian Universalist Church and our own Jillian, who spoke movingly about her great-grandparents who emigrated to the United States more than a century ago. Just as her great-grandparents were welcomed to our nation, Jillian expressed the hope that immigrants and refugees from around the world - regardless of their national origin - would continue to be welcomed here. Standing with our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters, seeing in them the image of God (betzelem Elohim), we were reminded that "hate has no home here."