From Solidarity to Action

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This has been the hardest paper to put out in my more than five years at the Baltimore Jewish Times, for the unthinkable has happened. Eleven Jews were brutally murdered, on Shabbat of all days, in the United States of America, in 2018.

As you’ll read in this issue, which we’ve devoted to the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, Susan C. Ingram and I attended two community gatherings on Sunday, the first at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and the second at Baltimore’s Holocaust Memorial in the afternoon. Hundreds turned out for both. In the morning, the crowd sang “Oseh Shalom” led by a large group of area clergy. Politicians sang and swayed with their arms around each other. Those who spoke emphasized the need to mourn, but the need for action when mourning is over.

While politics wasn’t widely mentioned during the morning’s speeches, some, such as BHC congregant Tracie Guy-Decker, called out white nationalism when they spoke to the JT. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who spoke at the event, told the JT that President Donald Trump’s comments “give space for hate.”

The afternoon gathering was a similar show of solidarity. There were several priests in attendance, a Muslim community leader and Jews of all stripes. Rabbi Ariana Katz of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebel read the names of the 11 victims and two African-Americans who were killed in Kentucky last week, to which the crowd responded “may their memory be for a blessing” after each name.

While both occasions were obviously solemn, solidarity and community unity were on full display. Jonah ben Avraham, a social justice organizer who helped put together the Holocaust Memorial gathering, spoke of how many groups there are that can stand together.

“Muslims, people of color, queers, Jews, people with disabilities, trans folks, immigrants — the list is a really long one and that means that the list of potential allies is also very long.” All of these voices and more can be found in our coverage starting on page 28.

On page 34, Connor Graham writes about attending a gathering held at Beth Shalom Congregation in Columbia, where the building was overflowing with people standing elbow-to-elbow, and where clergy, after taking part in a program inside, held court in the parking lot for the hundreds who couldn’t get inside.

It’s abundantly clear that Baltimore stands strong with Pittsburgh in the face of hate and anti-Semitism. But it’s also clear that something needs to change to stem the tide of hate crimes, anti-Semitism and homegrown terror in our country. Our survival depends on it.

As BHC Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen said, “Today we mourn. Tomorrow, let us stand up strong together.”

mshapiro@midatlanticmedia.com

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