“Everyone has a responsibility to create a more inclusive society and challenge hateful rhetoric. The safety and well-being of our community depend on it.”(Sabina Mohyuddin, program manager at The American Muslim Advisory Council)
In response to the tragic murder this weekend of eleven Jewish followers at the “Tree of Life” Synogogue in Pittsburgh, I read that security would be tightened at Jewish synagogues throughout South Florida. Arriving on Monday morning for a speaker presentation at the David Posnack Jewish Community of South Florida, I observed the enhanced presence of police patrols and massed array of local TV news vans in the parking lot at this securely gated facility. As I entered the reception area, I then received word that this event had been cancelled. Meanwhile, I also heard that an open press conference reaction to the Pittsburgh tragedy would soon be taking place in a nearby building.
Given the free time now, I made my way to the press conference area, considering it as an opportunity to educate myself about community plans to deal with the Anti Semitism problem. As I entered the room, I noticed ahead of me a row of TV cameras facing a crowded press conference stage. Anticipated tension seemed to settle amid the diverse crowd I determined to be religious leaders, politicians, and other community organization activists To my left, a memorial table had been set up to recognize each of the eleven Jewish victims slain in Pittsburgh with lighted candles. Moving closer, I curiously scanned the official list of prominent speakers/attendees from South Florida at this event.
I then saw an ideal opportunity to mingle among the crowd and speak to various attendees informally. Conversing candidly about their presence here today with priests, rabbis, mullahs, volunteers, and community activists, I now realized that this would be no politically divisive rally. An exhausted looking Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz would soon provide a tear-filled speech deploring this attack on the Jewish community as an attack on all humanity in this country. As the press conference continued, I surprisingly noted that other speeches contained largely factual reporting about Jewish hate crimes with no mention of Donald Trump or the upcoming midterm election.
What have I learned today? Clearly, a plea for unity in this crisis across political, economic, and religious lines seems most relevant here. America has just witnessed one of the largest anti-Jewish attacks in the history of this country. Social media hate attacks currently run rampant. Our President continually uses blameful attacks on his opponents to exacerbate our political differences. Whether globalism or nationalism resonates with you now, we must tone down the anger and engender vigilant attention to our shared humanity.