Sunday, October 28, 2018

Jews Murdered in Pittsburgh Synagogue

Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, attacks targeted at Jews accounted for half of all religiously inspired hate crimes in 2016. The eleven murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue by an anti-Semite in Pittsburgh this weekend come on the heels of a pipe bomb mailed to Holocaust survivor George Soros (along with other prominent Democrats) from a Florida man known for sharing his anti-Jewish conspiracy theories online. This past spring, a self-described white nationalist openly calling for a United States "free of Jews" drew nearly 90,000 votes in the run up to California's statewide Republican primary, while an assortment of neo-Confederates, white supremacists, and other hate groups marched openly in Charlottesville last year chanting "Jews Will Not Replace Us."

This is becoming a nation that most of us not longer recognize, where vile ideologies once relegated to the shadows are making their way to the forefront of political rallies. We must not allow these distortions of American values to go unchallenged or further enter the mainstream. As our parent's and grandparent's generation fought the Nazis in Europe, we must continue to fight bigotry, racism and calls for ethnic purity in our own time, on our own soil. We must form coalitions and stand in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers, with our GLBTQ sons and daughters, with blacks, with immigrants and every other minority that has become a scapegoat to channel the unfocused anger of an Empire in decline. For in this diverse land, whatever our faith or lack or faith, whatever our skin color, whatever our national heritage, we are all minorities and in danger therefore of becoming victims.  Tribalism must not triumph.  

In the famous words attributed to pastor Martin Neimoller, "In Germany, first they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up." On this Reformation Sunday, we should remember and resemble this courageous Lutheran who was imprisoned at Dachau for his resistance to Hitler.

Speak up and act up. 

Rev. Gary Kowalski

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