The Standing Together steering committee of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities stands in solidarity with the Jewish community in the wake of Saturday’s violent anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. There is no loss of life that can be measured; the depth and breadth of this loss overwhelms and breaks our hearts.
The United States was founded upon a commitment to uphold human equality. And while our history tragically testifies that we have not always lived up to that value, we have nevertheless aspired to be a nation that affirms everyone’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The mass-shooting on Saturday was the antithesis of this value. Indeed, an attack on a Jewish community is an assault on all of us, an affront to everything we stand for as a nation.
And we also understand that this act of violence does not stand alone. It is part of a constellation of violence manifest in words, laws, and acts that negate people’s humanity. A few days earlier, a heavily armed man in Kentucky attempted to murder worshippers at an African American church and, when he couldn’t get in, went next door and killed two African American people at a grocery store. A few days before that, it was reported that the government was formulating plans to strip transgender and non-binary Americans of some of their civil rights. Demonizing anyone who can be called other — Jews, Muslims, Latinos, Blacks, Sikhs, immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers — has become a grotesque new normal, and dangerous weapons are all too accessible to those with hateful ideologies and intent to do harm.
Standing Together, led by Steering Committee members from the A.M.E., Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, and United Methodist traditions, commits to acting in solidarity with targeted communities by promoting justice and advancing human dignity, inclusion, and equity. And we invite you, your communities, and your organizations to share and act in this commitment.
We call on our community to take our heartbreak, our shock, our anguish and channel it into the concrete action that visions and builds a just, inclusive world where people practice their faith, share their cultural identities, and live and exist as their authentic selves. We believe that when we stand together, we are all the better for it.
Signed by the members of the Standing Together Steering Committee: Rev. Molly Bosscher, Dr. Imad Damaj, Rev. Dr. Alex Evans, Ms. Anne Gibbons, Rabbi Michael Knopf, Rev. Rachel May, Dr. Archana Pathak, Dr. Ravi Perry, Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf, Rev. Amy Russell, Rev. Dr. Corey D. B. Walker, Mr. Jonathan Zur
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