“If you really need to hate something, hate the hatred within you” said Imam Ibrahim Atasoy during past week’s Friday’s Shabbat services at Woodlands Community Temple. To an outsider, this may sound confusing: an imam making a speech during Shabbat services at a Jewish temple. For us though, it was the perfect answer to the evil of hate that showed itself once again in New Zealand in the past month. We prayed together at Woodlands and demonstrated that we can be strong together against hate.
We want to thank our friends, community leaders, religious leaders of all faiths who have shown solidarity with us in the wake of the New Zealand shootings at two mosques. Below are some of the messages we have received from our friends:
- “The only thing that does seem clear to me is that we cannot allow this attack – or any act of hatefulness – to drive a wedge between good people. We need to focus on that which unites us and stand together, supporting each other, sharing with each other, and listening to each other.”
- “May those who hate come to learn it does not pay to act on their feelings. May their hearts open wide so that, very soon, they too believe this world is large enough and welcoming enough for all of us to live together in respect and in love.”
- “On a day like this, I think back to our wonderful gathering just a few short weeks ago where we sat peacefully studying the words of our holy books. We did so with respect and openness. If only everyone could know what is possible when we love one another.”
- “The attack on the Mosques in New Zealand this morning is an attack on every single one of us. It is the same as the attack in the Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the attack in a Church in Charleston.”
- “I pray that we can bring back the sacred and honor and respect it in all its forms. My prayers go out to those most personally suffering due to this tragedy in New Zealand and to all of us as it is a sad reflection of our world today.”
We thank our Congressman Elliot Engel for his statement expressing that he is “stunned, angry, and heartbroken by the massacre at the two mosques in Christchurch”. We thank Woodlands community and Rabbi Mara Young in particular for offering a joint prayer during Shabbat services as a form of healing.
We don’t need to say anything else beyond what is said in the messages above. We all share the same values and the same pain. Our members attended various vigils in the region. Everywhere we went, we saw people of all faiths coming together, and delivering messages of solidarity and unity. The tragedy in New Zealand solidified our will to work together to build trust and promote peace.