Letter to the editor: It is time to create a climate where everyone can feel safe | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: It is time to create a climate where everyone can feel safe

Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman

What took place in Colleyville, Texas, shook me to my core. It wasn’t just that a gunman entered a synagogue and took hostages. The situation became more real to me when my daughter, who is a Reform rabbi, told me she had attended seminary with the Colleyville rabbi. Somehow, when you have a connection with impacted victims, the whole scenario takes on a different light. You experience the horrors in a different way.

Although I served on active duty in the United State Air Force as a Jewish chaplain for nearly a quarter of a century, I must admit that as a Jew in America, I have never felt entirely safe in this country. I have encountered antisemitism throughout my life. As a child, I was called names by non-Jewish neighborhood children. In high school, I was attacked in a gym locker room and punched in the face by some ignorant hoodlum who added vicious epithets to his sucker punch. My second home is in Charlottesville, Virginia, where well-armed and well-organized neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched past the synagogue chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” in 2017.

Yet another religious sanctuary has been invaded, awakening some of us to the terrifying aspects of people at prayer in a house of God being threatened and terrorized. But for the law enforcement agents who rescued the rabbi and his congregants, there might well have been a blood bath in Colleyville. Some of the media outlets didn’t report the antisemitic and anti-Israeli rants the gunman spewed, but they were a significant part of the 11-hour ordeal.

This country will not survive on hatred. It is time to reassert the values of inclusiveness and respect for our different traditions and backgrounds. It is time to create a climate where everyone can feel safe.

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