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Community leaders speak at Zoom Solidarity Gathering

LONGMEADOW – As many as 400 individuals participated in a ZOOM rally on April 23 in support of the Longmeadow Jewish community after the attempted firebombing of Ruth’s House on April 2. Community leaders made statements in support of Ruth’s House and the Jewish community at rally organized by the Anti-Defamation League of New England. Co-sponsors included Congregation Bnai Torah, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Interfaith Council of Greater Springfield, the Jewish Federation of Western Mass., Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, Sinai Temple, Temple Beth El, and the Springfield Jewish Community Center.

Here are some of the statements made by community leaders: 

 

Robert Trestan, executive director ADL of New England

“To the people of Longmeadow, the important message is that you are not alone. Anti-Semitism and hate impacts all of us, and the communities in which we live. The attempted arson at Ruth’s house was an act of hate, an act of terror designed to intimidate and instill fear, and a shocking reminder that even in the midst of a pandemic, people are targeting the Jewish community for violence. But today’s gathering is a reminder of the entire community’s resilience and firm stand against all forms of hate and bigotry, and our steadfast refusal to be intimidated. And on this point we are solidly united.”

 

Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe, Congregation B’nai Torah, Longmeadow

“In this difficult time, besides the attack on Ruth’s house we have this long, drawn out pandemic, where we all need to help each other, we all need not just to ask G-d’s help, but G-d’s help that we not tire… and that He continue to gives us the strength to continue to express our kindness and our caring, and the help that we need to give and support each other.”

 

Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz, Temple Beth El, Springfield

“We can pray for light to follow the darkness, that redemption will follow the exile and that the Jewish people will continue to flourish in the United States. But we will only flourish if we fight back. We must never be afraid. Wherever there are threats we must stand tall and be proud to be Jewish and share that pride with others. At times our history has been written in tears, yet we Jews have outlived every empire and every civilization that sought to destroy us. Our spirit is indomitable. Where others spread darkness, let us spread light.”

 

Stewart Bromberg, CEO of Jewish Federation of Western Mass.

“It is a shame, that during [the Covid crisis] we hear about the arson attempt at Ruth’s House and then, yesterday, about the defacing of the building at UMass Hillel in Amherst…The most important thing is that we stay together as a community. It’s not just about anti-Semitism or racism, its about all hate, and working together as a community to stand strong.”

 

Massachusetts State Sen. Eric Lesser 

“We are in a period of darkness right now in many respects. We are facing a health emergency across our communities, across the world. And we’re facing a scourge of rising intolerance and anti-Semitism and bigotry…We all need to speak in one voice and say that it’s not tolerated at any time and especially not now in the midst of this epidemic.”

 

Lt. Robert Stocks, Longmeadow Police Department

“Hate crimes are an attack on the core values of Longmeadow… we will continue to take a proactive approach to prevent acts of violence and intimidation. We feel the problems posed by hate crimes are challenging, however they’re not insurmountable. Any incidents that are intended to cause alarm or terror within our community will be investigated aggressively and dealt with in a swift and strong response.”

 

Rabbi Noach Kosovsky, Luavitcher Yeshiva Academy, Longmeadow

“We are facing an opportunity after this is over to look at ourselves and look at our community…Many people are home — parents at home with their children, children home from school — this is where things begin…This is a great opportunity for parents to talk to their children; to remind their children to reflect upon the important values in life — Health, family, friendship, reaching out to help other people.” 

 

Rev. Jason Seymour, Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield and president of the Interfaith council of Greater Springfield

“I’ve been called to speak for diverse people from across our community from congregations in Longmeadow and Springfield and beyond, all of whom wish to communicate strongly how we value our Jewish neighbors, and that we are committed to stand together against any act of hate. We are with you. We value you. We will do all that we can to protect you. We pray for your wellbeing. We do this every day but especially now.” 

 

Dr. Mohammad Bajwa, Islamic Society of Western Mass., West Springfield

“We support and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Jewish community and with all faith groups against 

hate and violence…At this time there is a global calamity caused by an invisible enemy, the coronavris. We are all humbled to realize our human weakness and vulnerability and we are trying to win this fight together. If this has not taught a lesson of humility, common concerns, love and compassion, then what else are we waiting for?” 

 

Bishop Talbert Swan, President of the NAACP, Springfield and Spring of Hope Church of God 

“For many years because of our shared legacies, the African American and Jewish communities have had a civil rights alliance. The African American community knows full well the fear and terror involved in being targeted by racist violence. Today the NAACP, its members and all people of good will renew our commitment to combat anti-Semitic hate crimes and we unequivocally condemn the white supremacist attack on our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

 

Daniel Agranov, Deputy Consul General of Israel to New England 

“Just this week we marked Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day…The Holocaust taught us that when we all stand together, only then will justice prevail. We have full confidence in the law enforcement agencies that will seek justice to punish the perpetrator of this act, and send a message that anti-Semitism will never be tolerated here.”

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