Jewish Community–4-19-17

April 19, 2017




To Our Jewish Friends and Neighbors:


As the Jewish community prepares to pause for its annual Yom HaShoah (a day

of reflection on the Holocaust and the need to ensure that such a tragedy and

travesty never happens again), it seems an appropriate time for those of us of

other faith traditions to express our support and solidarity—not just in

condemning the horrors of the past, but in working to counter the bigotry of the



The many threats of violence over the past few months against Jewish

community centers, schools and synagogues throughout the United States; the

acts of intimidation and harassment directed toward individual Jews, their

families and their homes; and the vandalism and desecration of cemeteries and

other sacred places of Judaism—all of this and more have cast a chill over Jews

as well as onlookers of goodwill.


Despite our deep concern, we readily acknowledge that being onlookers to these

actions is an altogether different experience from being the recipients of such

unmerited animosity. And we also recognize that Jews, as a people, have a long

and tragic track record of being the victims of hate, of persecution, of pogroms, of

curtailed rights and major mistreatment.


The acts of antisemitism that are documentably becoming more commonplace

cannot but tear open old wounds; bring back memories of past injustice; remind

of stories of hatred and hardship that have been handed down from generation to

generation; and arouse again the kind of fears that many had hoped would have

become a thing of the past by this point in history.


The repeated phone threats against Jewish facilities have evoked a unique kind

of consternation and frustration. Because no bombs went off, onlookers could

shrug and say, “What’s the big deal?” But who could guarantee that the next

threat wouldn’t be for real? Jewish decision makers faced the classic “Catch 22”:

Both evacuating and not evacuating in the wake of such threats had major

downsides and their own types of risk.


When recent headlines suggested that many of the phoned threats had actually

been perpetrated by a disturbed young man in Israel who was himself Jewish,

you as Jews once again experienced a unique form of anguish.


It was no doubt a relief to know that some of the many threats had been a hoax

of sorts. Yet because of that news, you knew that many onlookers would jump to

the conclusion that if some of the bomb threats were bogus, then all reports of all

forms of rising antisemitism must be equally bogus. So once again Jews find

themselves in a disadvantaged situation—while acts of hate continue.


Although we as your non-Jewish friends will never totally understand what you’re

going through, we understand enough to know that in varying degrees and in a

variety of ways you’re hurting as a result of all that has transpired and is still



In our admittedly inadequate and perhaps clumsy fashion, we want to assure you

as our friends, neighbors and fellow believers that you have our full support. We

want you to know that we condemn the past atrocities to which you’ve been

subjected as a people, and we oppose the efforts of groups and individuals who

currently seek to do you harm by spreading hate and perpetrating violence or the

threat of it.


Your own sacred writings contain an observation that highlights the need for the

different segments of our community to be there for each other. We read: “Two

are better than one, because . . . if either of them falls down, one can help the

other up.”


At a time when others are trying to do the Jewish community harm, we as the

Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida wish to assure

you that we stand beside you as your friends and seek ways not only to be

supportive but to actively counteract those who seek to inflict pain and wreak



Yours for a better world,


Rev. Bryan Fulwider, United Church of Christ

Dr. Claudia Schippert, Buddhist

Rev. Gus Davies, Evangelical

Imam Hatim Hamidullah, Muslim

Pastor James Coffin, Seventh-day Adventist

Rev. Dr. Jason Micheli, Presbyterian

Rev. Kathy Schmitz, Unitarian Universalist

Ms. Ina Denton, Buddhist

Ms. Lynette Fields, United Methodist

Mr. Robert J. Ray, Evangelical

Mr. Navtej Singh Khalsa, Sikh

Imam Muhammad Musri, Muslim

Mr. Abhinav Dwivedi, Hindu

Dr. Sheri Dressler, Baha’i

Mr. Louis Canter, Roman Catholic

Ms. Rana Tiwari, Hindu