Ohef Sholom Temple held a healing service and town hall meeting on Monday, October 29. Approximately 500 people attended the service. Many who spoke during the town hall portion of the evening represented other faith communities. They expressed condolences and a commitment of
solidarity. Susan Feit, a social justice consultant, spoke. An excerpt:
My parents are both Holocaust survivors. They did everything they could to get to the United States
of America, the country they believed was the greatest nation on earth. They ran for their lives to this country searching for refuge and freedom from religious and ethnic persecution.
Looking around this room tonight and feeling the solidarity from such a diverse group of Hampton Road neighbors, I know they were right. The United States is a country of promise and opportunity, a leader of human and civil rights. It is a republic that was founded by We, the People. The authors of the Constitution did not begin with our elected officials, no they began with the Preamble. Let me remind you how the Constitution begins…
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The authors of the constitution knew it was up to each and every one of us to safeguard our nation and safeguard each other. Brother to brother and sister to sister.
And by coming here tonight to participate in this evening of healing and prayer, you too are joining in our nation’s most fundamental belief, that sacred obligation of active citizenry—We the people.
We live in a time when it is increasingly critical for each and everyone us to become an active participant in our great democracy. It might seem like a daunting task in this time of trauma and trouble. What can I do? Who am I to face this seemingly insurmountable challenge? What possible difference can one person make? I ask you think again.
I ask you to look around at this inspiring room. You are not alone. There is a whole community full of people committed to standing up to hate and denouncing division. There is power in numbers. Look around and remember this room whenever you feel alone. Events like this are happening across our region and across our nation. We are not alone.
It is a time for us to take action, both as individuals and as a community. Never underestimate the power of simply showing up and standing up for what you believe in. It is time to get off the sidelines and become active, consistent participants in building the Hampton Roads we wish to see.
It is time for us to stamp out the rhetoric that can lead to dehumanization of whole groups of people and to physical violence. It is time for us to demand this of our public officials and community leaders. We must hold our leaders accountable.
Enough is enough!!!
It is time for us to go out and vote.
It is time for us to demonstrate and it is time for us to show solidarity to our neighbors.
It is time for us to teach our children to learn from those who are different, rather than to fear the stranger.
It is time for our community to build bridges between groups that makes sure we celebrate rather than fear the diversity of our region.
It is time for us to reach out to those who feel that our country has left them behind and find ways to include those who are being marginalized, to include them in the promise of a bright future.
Saturday it was the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. My heart grieves with my Jewish brothers and sisters. As we move forward, let us honor their memory by refusing to be silent witnesses to intolerance and hate.