This has been a wrenching week. We grieve and stand with France and with Lebanon. The acts of terror in Paris and Beirut this past week have left scars of rage, grief, heartbreak and fear around the world. As a community rooted in Jewish values and teachings, we are in pain when human beings forget that we are all connected, all part of one life, and when people turn in violence against others in the name of God. The destruction of human life and the distortion of religion call for a response that is the very opposite of this ‘turning against’. Judaism calls on us to turn face-to-face, to refuse to divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’, to embrace our shared humanity and the important beauty and worth of our diversity. We are called upon not to let fear close our hearts, but instead to be deliberate in reaching out with compassion and acting for justice.
We recognize that the Muslim faith of refugees does not make them inherently dangerous as some have said. Acts of terror being committed by extremists have had devastating impacts on Muslim communities as well as others. If anything, these horrific events have only strengthened the DJC’s commitment to respond with clarity, compassion, and active support to Syrian refugees fleeing violence and death. Under the diligent leadership of our Social Justice Committee, in partnership with JIAS (Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada), our preparations for sponsoring a Syrian family are moving forward steadily. If you have any comments, concerns or thoughts, please contact the Social Justice committee at djcSocialJustice@gmail.com.
Here in Canada, mosques and Muslims have been targeted by violence and Islamophobia. This is an important time for us as a Jewish community to stand as allies to Muslims in solidarity against ignorance, intolerance, and hatred. The Toronto Board of Rabbis (the rabbinic body of Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist rabbis – Rabbi Miriam sits on the executive of the TBR) is reaching out to our Muslim partners to see how the Jewish community can stand with them in support.
As we know from the practices of Chanukah, when we face darkness it is important to light candles. It is important to make that light visible to others. It is important to ignite a flame within us – a flame of commitment, of love, of inextinguishable sacred radiance – that lights our way forward together.
Rabbi Miriam & the DJC Board of Directors