R. David sent this message to the TBE community on November 7, 2022
Dear TBE Members and Friends:
As many of you know, I just returned from a four-day Israel trip with the Jewish Community Relations Council and a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-racial group of elected officials and nonprofit leaders from our area. I planned to share some of my community-building peace-seeking experiences with our congregation during an Israel-themed Shabbat this Friday, November 11.
That’s still the plan, and I hope you’ll come. And, fast-breaking events on City Island itself compel me to write today.
I’m sad and angry to report that three businesses on City Island Avenue, just steps from our synagogue, have been targeted by vile antisemitic mailings. Police are involved, as is the Jewish Community Relations Council. So far, our synagogue itself did not receive any mailings or any other antisemitic targeting.
Even so, we – our community – must carry ourselves as if we ourselves were targeted for hate. Because it happened. Because it happened to Jews and non-Jews, including an African-American business owner having no obvious connection to Jews or Judaism. Because it happened nearby. Because it happened anywhere.
The timing is especially poignant. It’s election week in the U.S., one week after I personally witnessed Israel’s pivotal national elections and more that I’ll share on Friday. Elections stand for the proposition – sacred in any true democracy – that all voters are equal. So to face vile antisemitism here and now – right here and right now – strikes at the core of our social compact.
This week also is Veterans’ Day. The rights and freedoms all Americans are supposed to enjoy have come at great sacrifice. Our women and men in uniform have given incalculably much in defense of this nation – and, at least in recent decades, nobody asked them (including my war-wounded veteran father) if they were Jews or people of color. Spewing hate against any group not only tarnishes our freedoms and values, but also devalues the devotion – and too often, in Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s words, “the last full measures of devotion” – of people of all colors and creeds whose service we honor this week.
We’ve been here before and, if history is prologue, we’ll probably be here again. As U.S. ambassador Dr. Deborah Lipstadt often teaches, “it” may start with antisemitism but rarely ends there. A society that tolerates antisemitism also will tolerate racism, homophobia, misogyny and more. The language of this week’s particular hate may be antisemitic, but it aimed directly at our African-American neighbors.
We will not tolerate it. We will stand strong and confident, with our allies of every color and creed, to show that we will not be cowed. The first thing we do is show up – physically if we’re able – to draw strength from each other and celebrate together our strength, diversity, resilience and resolve. We are in close touch with the NYPD and Jewish Community Relations Council, as well as our City Island community leaders and my clergy colleagues.
I’ll continue to keep our community closely informed as we learn more. For now, please plan to join us Friday – onsite if you’re comfortably able. More to come soon.
From my heart to yours, I send blessings for resilience and resolve during this pivotal time for us, and for everyone. B’shalom,
– Rabbi David Evan Markus
Temple Beth El of City Island