Hazon Detroit is proud to have stood alongside so many powerful faith leaders on November 1, 2018 at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn to denounce white nationalism, show support for the Jewish community, and affirm solidarity for all those who are targets of hate. Praying for a time when these gatherings might be prompted not by hate, but only by love. To see more from the speak-out, click here or here, and read Rabbi Nate DeGroot’s full remarks below.
Thank you Imam Elahi and the Islamic House of Wisdom
for having me here today.
I wish I was here for a different reason –
but we’re alive in this moment –
And so I am grateful to be here with you this afternoon
in heartbreak and solidarity
And I am humbled to be up here,
amongst such respected colleagues
and fellow travelers.
I was asked today to speak on how the Jewish community is feeling
in this moment,
And I will do my best to articulate some of that.
But capturing the sentiments of an entire people is an impossible task –
Since I can only truly speak to how I am feeling,
And even that is shifting in real time.
But of course,
after eleven of our family were murdered
this past Saturday
simply for being Jewish,
We feel devastated.
We feel sad and outraged.
We feel really, really, tired.
And for many of us –
white Jews especially –
We feel scared
for our physical safety
in a new way –
confused and vulnerable,
like our sense of security
has been personally and profoundly shattered
for the first time.
I know stories of my people
being killed for being Jewish
and even in other countries
since I’ve been alive.
But the anti-Semitism I have experienced in America
Has mostly been relegated to distasteful Jew jokes,
Angrily graffitied swastikas,
and the genuine surprise of a new acquaintance
When they find out that I don’t actually have horns.
Even after Charlottesville,
When chants of “Jews will not replace us”
Rang out from torch-lit streets,
It was a confusingly
to brush off,
Jews are safe in America.
The real object of such hate –
Our thinking went –
was our black neighbors,
our LGBTQ neighbors,
our Muslim neighbors,
Our disabled neighbors,
our immigrant neighbors –
It was them we must stand up for
Well, Saturday changed all that –
We know now, deep inside
It is not them that we must support –
It is all of us – that must be supporting each other.
This world and this country suffer from a deep sickness –
A sickness that is at once
Both terribly modern
And ancient as souls.
A sickness defined today by white nationalism.
And in our earliest texts,
By those most thirsty for greed and power and control.
A sickness that claims that diversity
Is a threat.
And that whiteness is supreme.
But we here today
and proclaim loudly,
is not the truth.
We here know,
That diversity is our greatest blessing
and our truest strength,
And that only God
When that man entered Tree of Life Synagogue and shot our people
Who were praying their Shabbat morning services
And welcoming an eight day old baby
Into the covenant of the Jewish people
for the first time,
Felt a pain devastatingly familiar
to all those who are –
or have been
targets of hate.
A pain, perhaps recognizable
To the families of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones,
Or to the those traveling north on the migrant caravan
Or to the trans community
Or to many of you in this room today.
In this moment,
Are feeling a deeper sense of empathy with you –
A shared humanity that rests gently
Just below the particular heartbreak of our loss.
In this moment,
Are waking up
to the revolutionary truth
that until all of us are free,
none of us are free –
That the scope of healing that is required in this country
in this moment
Implicates each of us,
All people of conscience and good faith
To heed the most prophetic teachings
Of our respective traditions –
That we are all created b’tzelem Elohim,
In the image of the God that connects us all,
To love thy neighbor
To welcome thy stranger
To be an am kadosh,
a holy people,
bringing sanctity to a world of immense profanity
As our psalms teach,
To build this world from love.
We know that fear
turns to hate.
So yes, we’re scared now –
We’re all scared now –
From those pulling the trigger
To those of us who are targets.
But we also know
That the only way forward is together.
I want to thank you for having me today,
For showing up for the Jewish community in this past week in all the ways that you have –
Both here and nationally –
With specific gratitude to the Muslim community
for your financial support,
raising funds to support the victims of the shooting,
your physical protection,
at vigils and protests around the country,
and your gestures of kindness and compassion,
Sending cards and letters and flowers of support.
I would like to end with a blessing:
Eloheinu, v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu,
Our God, God of our ancestors and spirit of all spirits,
Let us together travel
the path of collective healing
With eyes and hearts and arms wide open
Continuing to extend the very best of what we’ve got to offer to one another –
Allowing ourselves to lift
And be lifted
and be loved
To heal the soul of this nation.
I speak on behalf of myself,
And I pray on behalf of Jews all around this country and the world,
That we are committed to doing that for you.
Peace be with you. And God bless.