Speak out, reach out to enhance understanding and combat hate

By Betsy Frank

During the seasons of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, both of which celebrate religious freedom, this is a column I did not want to write. But write I must.

On October 27, worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue were gunned down during a Shabbat morning service. This act is but one symptom of hate in our society and even our own Wabash Valley community, where anti-Semitic flyers have appeared.

As Jews, we have grown a bit complacent about our freedoms, including the freedom to pray in our synagogues without fear.

As Jews, we have grown a bit complacent about our freedoms, including the freedom to pray in our synagogues without fear. Given recent events, we have increased security at the Temple and now lock our doors at all times.

Wabash Valley shows its support for congregation

Theater 7’s reading of “This Side of Eternity” filled the UHC sanctuary.

Yet, despite our concerns, we know the Wabash Valley community supports our congregation. Immediately following the Pittsburgh massacre, Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Sister Barbara Battista organized a vigil of remembrance for the very next day.

The next Friday, as the nation observed #ShowUpForShabbat, the Temple sanctuary was filled with our own congregants and members and clergy from many other congregations in our community, including the Sisters of Providence, Terre Haute Central Presbyterian Church, Central Christian Church, The Islamic Center of Terre Haute and several others.

As a community, we must continue to enhance understanding and refuse to let tragic events frighten us into silence.

We also received handwritten notes of support from the First UU Church of Terre Haute and First Congregational Church of Terre Haute.

On Nov. 11, the Theater 7 reading of Christopher Bibby’s play This Side of Eternity: The Story of Kristallnacht brought a packed house to our sanctuary.

Finally, on a personal note, a non-Jewish couple who formerly lived in Terre Haute sent a donation to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in my name.

Make our community a welcoming place for all

Tragedy reminds us of the crucial need to speak and reach out.

As a community, we must continue to enhance understanding and refuse to let tragic events frighten us into silence.

Speak up when you see hateful speech directed toward others. Invite your friends to join us for Shabbat and other events we might host in the future.

Hate has no place in the Wabash Valley or our country. Working together, we can help make our community a welcoming place for all.

Shalom,

Betsy Frank

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