It is unsettling to say that in my fourteen years as rabbi of the Cape Cod Synagogue, every synagogue on the Cape has been vandalized or threatened with Nazi symbolism. All of them. The latest community to suffer this direct threat of violence and message of hatred was our sister Reform Jewish community, the Falmouth Jewish Congregation. Yet again, the insignias of racism and mass murder were employed to terrify Jews. I am strong in stating that we refuse to indulge in fear. We are much stronger than those who are filled with hate. While they hide in the shadows, using the anonymity of the internet and of vandalism, we stand together proudly in the full light of day. No one can dissuade us from being who we are and from living Jewish lives.
Standing fast is not enough. This is why I am so proud to be a part of a reinvigorated No Place For Hate campaign in Barnstable. With the able leadership of our steering committee, we had a kick-off event at the Community College on October 20. Our committee includes leaders and members of faith communities, NAACP leadership, the Cape Organization for the Rights of the Disabled, Barnstable Police officers, and many more. Our chairperson, Eileen Elias, has been tireless in pushing our effort forward. Confronted by hate and prejudice, we need this proactive effort.
The experiences of Jews, while particular to us, are reflected in the experiences of people from many backgrounds. No Place For Hate strives to help us understand one another, and to transcend our labels to find our common humanity. In our ever more polarized politics, we are increasingly drawn into narrow tribal circles. Told by ideological firebrands what to think regarding the mindsets of people outside of our tribes, we entertain ever more cartoonish ideas about the people in our community who vote differently, believe differently, and who live differently than we. Counter to our American ideals and the realities of our multi-ethnic country, the currents are pulling to make us into a dark mirror image of the nation our founders envisioned, ex uno plures, out of one, many.
No Place For Hate is a countervailing force reminding us that we are truly one. I urge you to stay aware and involved of what NPFH is up to in Barnstable. While vital, I also know that these efforts alone are not enough. It’s up to us to embody the values that we want to see live in our community and on the whole Cape. It’s up to us to engage with people who walk different paths from ours. It’s up to us to embrace the humanity of every person, regardless of their beliefs and identity. It’s up to us to see the people who have come from all over the world to find freedom and see that they are as American as we.
The months of effort from the NPFH steering committee have given me great reason for hope. In those meetings I see the best of Barnstable working hand in hand in a spirit of love. It’s still there, and much stronger than the darkness of hate.
Rabbi David Freelund
Cape Cod Synagogue