Letter from Christian Leaders Decrying Violence Against Jews
To our Jewish siblings and neighbors, and to our fellow Christians,
As Christian faith leaders, we reach out to share our sense of horror and disgust at the terrifying rise in violence against Jews and increasing public expressions of antisemitism. Our hearts, prayers, and tears join yours as we bear witness to tragic events in Monsey, New York, here in Massachusetts, and elsewhere. As Christians whose tradition has been and continues to be the source of so much antisemitic terror in history, we carry a particular responsibility to identify, condemn, and resist antisemitism in any and every form.
When we encounter it in our own sacred texts and liturgy, it's on us to call it out. When we teach Christian history, it's on us to name our forebears’ complicity and to call them out. When we see it in the media or in everyday interactions with our peers, it’s on us to speak up, push back, and demand awareness of the harm that even unintended or casual slights may cause. And when we see antisemitism borne out in acts of aggression on the streets or subways or in viscious and deadly violence in Jewish homes or synagogues, it’s on us to go public, to cry out in the strongest possible terms that such actions are anathema to our most deeply held values of respect for human dignity and love for our neighbors… and that they are anathema to the God we worship.
To our neighbors who are Jewish, please know that we hold our relationships with you as sacred, that we stand in solidarity with you, that you are not alone and will not be asked to face these challenges alone. Indeed, antisemitism is not a Jewish problem! It is a Christian problem. And when it occurs in this nation, it is a national problem and a national disgrace! It is a shared problem which requires a massive shared response. Today, we recommit ourselves to doing our part to sustain our ancient ties and to show that we cherish our connections with you.
On August 17, 1790, President George Washington visited the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. In response to his visit and reiterating words that were shared with him by Jewish leaders, he declared this defining commitment, that the government and people of this nation give "… to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance….”
Silence is both sanction and assistance. At a time of a resurgence of hatreds of all kinds, and meanness and violence visited upon persons of color, queer persons and immigrants, let us cry STOP.
Therefore, on the verge of a new year and a new decade may we each resolve to restore tolerance, decry hatred, celebrate diversity, 'give to bigotry no sanction and to persecution no assistance.’
In the coming days, please, everyone, reach out to Jewish neighbors, co-workers, friends, or acquaintances. Let them know they are not alone. Write them a caring text, email or letter. Share a note or sign of friendship and solidarity with a Jewish organization or synagogue. We need to lament these recent atrocities together, to share our heartache and to show our care, love and support in these tender, terrifying and fragile times.
Rev. Laura Everett, Massachusetts Council of Churches
Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond, Bethel AME Church, Boston
Rev. Daniel Smith, First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC
Rev. Burns Stanfield, Fourth Presbyterian Church and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization
Rev. Dr. Nancy S. Taylor, Old South Church in Boston
Rev. Liz Walker, Roxbury Presbyterian Church
Rev. Steve Watson, Reservoir Church, Cambridge
Rev. David Wright, Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston
Please add your name and affiliation. Both clergy and lay leaders are welcome to sign here.