The statement which appears below was approved by the Board of Directors of OHALAH.
OHALAH: the Association of Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic Pastors for Jewish Renewal joins with all people of good faith to express our grief and outrage at the terrorist attack and march fueled by hatred that happened in Charlottesville, VA.
We especially extend out condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, who was so heartlessly murdered, and to the families of the law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates. We pray for complete healing of all those injured – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We completely and unequivocally condemn all ideologies such as white supremacy and Nazism that are based on the idea that one group is superior to any other, and condemn all those who help legitimize such ideologies, especially those who hold leadership positions in our country. These racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic ideologies are in direct contradiction to our teachings. For instance, the Talmud teaches:
Why was only a single specimen of human created first? To teach us that one who destroys a single soul destroys a whole world and that one who saves a single soul saves a whole world; furthermore, in order that no race or class may claim a nobler ancestry, saying, “Our father was born first”; and, finally, to give testimony to the greatness of the Creator, who caused the wonderful diversity of humans to emanate from one type.
We hold as foundational that all humans are created in the Divine image and therefore are always deserving of respect. For this reason, we commit to expanding our efforts to reach out to people with the understanding that we are all family.
Our colleague, Rabbi David Shneyer calls us to pay attention to the fact that in Charlottesville, “Americans have been addressed by powerful forces that challenge our society and moral conscience.” Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother, calls us to, “take that extra step and . . . find a way to make a difference in the world!”
To this end, many of us have been participating in vigils and interfaith witnesses to unity, respect and love. Rabbi Shneyer reminds us that, in addition, “We need good leadership, moral guidance and hope. We need to go deeper than rallies and vigils. We need to offer strategies for healing the wounds of the past and new ways to educate our leaders about moral integrity and responsible government. We need to think more about how we educate our children.”
Lastly, we share these Words of inspiration from Aurora Levins Morales, Puerto Rican Jewish writer and poet from her poem “V’Ahavta”:
Don’t waver. Don’t let despair sink its sharp teeth into the throat with which you sing. Escalate your dreams.
Make them burn so fiercely that you can follow them down any dark alleyway of history and not lose your way.
Make them burn as clear as a starry drinking gourd over the grim fog of exhaustion, and keep walking.
Hold hands. Share water. Keep imagining.
So that we, and the children of our children’s children may live.
With hope for emotional healing, principled action, creative new ideas, and a deepening connection to the One.