VOICES: Hear one another with foundational belief in sanctity of every living being

As this letter was being written, news broke of the gut-wrenching shooting that took many precious lives in Uvalde, Texas. Our country is in crisis. The many issues that our country must address often incite conflicting opinions and laying blame, preventing potential resolution. If we continue to fight and shout down one another, we will remain in an infinite loop of dissonance. No one pathway exists to resolve underlying causes that result in senseless violence; however, it is certain that we will not succeed unless we can, again, learn to talk to and hear one another with a foundational belief in the sanctity of every living being. May the memories of those lives recently lost to senseless violence be for a blessing.

A Letter to our Greater Dayton Community:

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton (JFGD) express our abhorrence and strong condemnation of the recent, horrific attacks carried out against the African American community in Buffalo, the Taiwanese community in Orange County, and the Jewish community in Colleyville. We mourn with those communities for all victims who lost their lives, and we pray for the recovery of all those injured. When will this vitriolic hatred end and attacks on marginalized communities cease?

There is no place for racism and hatred in our world. It diminishes our humanity and impacts our daily lives: some experience fear walking into a supermarket; others going to church, mosque, temple, or synagogue to pray. The ultimate impact, however, must be to strengthen our resolve to live life fully, without fear and without hate.

We ask all people of goodwill to be more than bystanders to acts of hate–but, rather, to be “UPSTANDERS” who proactively embrace the worth of all members of our diverse community. We are a mosaic of peoples with different traditions that inform the way we live our lives; differences that are gifts to be cherished. Each one of us can and should learn from the other; be it knowledge, understanding, and empathy that unites us.

A core tenet of most religions is to “welcome the stranger.” We must peel away the layers of our own life experiences to understand who we are and to know that “welcoming the stranger” takes self-reflection and the sharing of our respective experiences with one another. Some of us always feel as a stranger in our own land, while others of us never do. Strive to change the power imbalances within your own social circles, organizations, and work environments. Hold yourself and your peers accountable and “do not stand idly by” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Our JCRC commitment is to EDUCATE-ADVOCATE-ACT. We do this through the lens of Cultural Humility and guided by our Jewish Values. As stated in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 2:21, “You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” While we may not see the work of combatting hatred and racism completed in our time, our effort to instill positive change in our world should not be diminished because of this fact.

To our friends, neighbors, and community, we pledge to continue our commitment to join forces with other marginalized communities and with all who stand up against intolerance, prejudice, and hate.

The JCRC offers an UPSTANDER Community dialogue. Please join us in this initiative by contacting JCRC Consultant, Marcy L. Paul, PhD, at mpaul@jfgd.net

B’Shalom-In Peace,

Marcy L. Paul, PhD, Jewish Community Relations Council Consultant

Bonnie Beaman Rice, JCRC Advisory Council Chairperson

Cathy Gardner, Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton CEO

Dr. Heath Gilbert, JFGD Board Chairperson

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