Saturday, July 20, 2019
Vigil Against Hate-‘We Must Say Hineini, Here I Am’
Couples and families came together Monday night to light candles for those who had been slaughtered in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The light from the candles sliced through the darkness as men and women solemnly reflected on the latest hate crime in their country.

They had gathered to remember those who had been cut down in a senseless slaughter a little more than 2,000 miles away.

A slaughter that had been perpetrated by a 46-year-old man shouting anti-Semitic rhetoric who gunned down 11 worshippers, including a doctor, a retired nurse and chaplain and a SWAT officer, as they worshipped in a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning.

But it was clear that the 40-plus people who had crowded into the office of the Wood River Jewish Community were  mindful of standing up against racism and bigotry and violence here at home, as well as across the country and world.

Susan Green watches as Bob Goldstein reads "Turn me around to yesterday that I may be consoled by its memories."

And a guard standing outside the door signified how they no longer felt quite as safe as they had two days earlier, even in a place like Sun Valley which many have described as being detached from the real world.

“We’re meeting today to remember the victims, pray for the survivors and the police who were injured in their efforts to apprehend the shooter. And we’re here to thank our fellow faith communities who have reached out to us to offer support,” said Susan Green, the new president of the Wood River Jewish Community.

Bob Goldstein read “The Echo of Your Promise,” which was based on Psalm 77: “How can I greet the dawn with song when darkness eclipses the rising sun?”

And Green read off the names of the victims, bringing them to life as she told about how the victims included a family physician remembered for the bow ties he wore, a couple who died together in the same synagogue where they had wed more than 60 years ago and two brothers who looked out for each other despite their disabilities.

Jami Delgado lights a candle as members of the Wood River Jewish Community and even a few members of other faiths commemorate the fallen.

Green said the event reminds us that “we live in a world where malignant anti-Semitism continues to persist. It reminds s that we must never be complacent in fighting hate and bigotry, not only as it is directed at us, but also as it affects others, as well.

“How we combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hate and bigotry in the world is the responsibility of each and every one of us,” she added. “I know that we, as a community, will stand with those who continue to combat the voices of hate and intolerance in our beloved country and in the world.”

Rabbi-Cantor Robbi Sherwin, who leads the Wood River Jewish Community, received condolences from every members of the Interfaith Council in the Wood River Valley. She said she was also overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from valley residents, having received multiple phone calls, texts and emails expressing the outrage all felt over the massacre of “innocent Jewish worshippers” ages 54 to 97.

 “We can only combat hatred, bigotry and ignorance if we are united as children of the Holy One,” she said.

The Rev. Ken Brannon of St. Thomas Episcopal Church shared her sentiments with his congregation at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in the hope that “We will continue … to cultivate peace in our own context.”

Sherwin said it is up to the Jewish in the valley to fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) of honoring the dead by doubling down in their commitment to Jewish communal life.

“ We must say, ‘hineini, ‘Here’ I am.’ We must show up again and again and again. Let us be courageous, remembering that courage is not the absence of fear. But, rather, never letting fear determine your actions.”

Sherwin noted that Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a survivor of the Holocaust, had sworn never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.

“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” said Wiesel, who spoke in Sun Valley in 2002 on the fanaticism that burst on our consciousness following 9-11.

“It is time to speak up, to walk the talk and to make sure that no other community ever has to face this horror again,” said Sherwin. “May we continue to be partners in making this world a better place for all.”

State Sen. Michelle Stennett, who reflected on the tragedy Monday morning, said she believes the only thing we have control of is what we do as individuals.

“The only way we can counter is with love and tolerance. Someone told me last night that if each person were to ignore a person who wants to be combative  that at some point that person would look awfully silly. We can’t expect change unless we’re the change we want to see. Hopefully, it will be catching.”





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