A plea to unify in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

To the editor:

On Saturday morning, I was in the Temple Beth-El Sanctuary as news of the Pittsburg massacre spread. My first reaction was fear; my second was that the anti-Semitic messages delivered daily by the president set the stage. I refuse to see equivalency between acts of protest and a mass shooting of innocent people praying.

We moved to Hillsborough about 24 years ago. We raised our children here. We met wonderful people at back-to-school nights, little league and in our neighborhood. We found a spiritual home at Temple Beth-El and were encouraged to volunteer for Interfaith Hospitality Network (congregations housing homeless families), stock the food pantry and support the community after the horror of September 11. Our clergy has always preached that we are all (all races, religions, ethnicity, political affiliation) created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. Love the stranger for you were once a stranger. When the White House speaks about “globalists” and “nationalism,” these are the values that  are being denigrated. I believe that our interfaith partners believe in the same values that Judaism teaches me.

Well before Saturday, I feared that our democracy is being threatened from within. The current majority in Congress has refused to serve as a check on the White House. Though there are the occasional “tweets” and “statements,” this majority has taken minimal action to prevent the White House from pitting neighbor against neighbor; family member against family member; white people against people of color; Christians against Jews and Muslims. This is an attack on the very fabric  of the United States.

I am asking our community, in the wake of this horrible massacre, to look inward and ask what kind of a town, state and country do we wish to bequeath to our children and grandchildren? Do we want a country that is ruled by hatred and division, in which we are advised we have to protect ourselves in churches, mosques and synagogues? Or, do we want to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The land whose soldiers  bravely landed at Normandy and liberated the concentration camps.

I have been praying that our country will reject the calls for hatred and win the battle for the soul of our democracy. Please vote of November 6. Mail in your ballots. Send a message to the White House and congressional leaders that America wants its core values back.

Beth Lavranchuk