Late last night the first reports of a massacre in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand flashed across my television screen. By this morning we all learned that the alleged murderer acted on the basis of white supremacist ideology and filmed much of the attack. Once again, peaceful worshippers were gunned down in a house of worship in the midst of prayer. The horror and heartbreak are beyond words. The proximity and similarity of today’s horror to the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh only deepens our sadness and outrage. Hate comes at a terrible and terrifying cost.
Revulsion, while appropriate and proper, also feels inadequate. We need to reach out to neighbors and friends, especially to our Muslim brothers and sisters, to express our anguish and, more importantly, to pledge our solidarity. I was able today to connect with Imam Anwar Muhaimin of Quba Mosque in west Philadelphia. Imam Anwar has frequently been our honored guest at Beth Am Israel and I have had the honor of visiting with him at the mosque. For many years now, students from BAI and Quba have participated together in ‘Walking the Walk’ and other Interfaith Philadelphia projects. Our relationship runs deep. This Shabbat as we pray for peace and security in the world and in our lives, I will be focused on my friend Imam Anwar and his beautiful community. I hope you’ll join me in that kavannah.
In the coming week, I hope that there will be opportunities for us to meet our neighbors at Quba and to express our friendship and solidarity in person. Please be on the lookout for announcements of such a gathering. It remains our commitment, in the words of Psalms 89:3 – ע֭וֹלָם חֶ֣סֶד יִבָּנֶ֑ה – ‘olam hesed yibaneh – to build a world of love and kindness together with our beloved neighbors and friends.
Rabbi David Ackerman
Hazzan Harold Messinger