Good evening. I am Rabbi Jennifer Singer. And I will tell you the truth. I don’t really want to be here at this anti-semitism rally.
In fact, my guess is that none of us really want to be here. We all have things we’d rather be doing. No one wants these rallies; but the sad truth is that we need them.
As people of conscience, we have no choice. Things are going terribly awry in this great nation of ours, and we cannot, we must not, stand idly by.
You don’t need me to tell you details about the hatred, attacks, and even murder that is becoming more open and virulent by the day. Things are happening that are so frightening, people have told me that they will stay away from this very gathering, in fear for their safety.
These are dark days.
Now is not the time to stay home. Now is the time to step forward, to reach beyond the bounds of our own communities, to reach out with friendship and understanding, in support of one another with open hearts and open minds.
We do not all agree. We don’t have to agree. What we must do is recognize that every person, each one of us, is worthy of respect. That regardless of our various beliefs, no one should live in fear.
My tradition believes that each person is made in God’s image. But no one is perfect, no one is without flaw. That’s the human condition. But the thing I cherish most about us humans is our desire and ability to rise above.
I know that we are better than this. We Jews, we Muslims, we Christians, we atheists, we immigrants, we, the people of these United States of America, are better than this.
We can overcome fear and hatred and ignorance. We can discover the common threads that tie us. And we can teach ourselves and our children that differences are to be celebrated, not feared.
I am proudly both a Jew and an American. I am Jewish because this is my heritage. I am Jewish because I love the traditions and teachings of my religion. I am Jewish because my parents taught me that my responsibility in this world is to make it a better place than I found it. I am Jewish because my grandparents passed down something meaningful, something beautiful, something that touches my soul.
I am American because that too is my heritage. I am American because I love living in this country. I am American because my parents taught me that my responsibility as a citizen is to make this country a better place than I found it. I am American because my grandparents passed down a belief in the promise of America and democracy and freedom.
And I am a Sarasotan. I am proud to be a part of this community. I am proud to be friends with a minister, an imam, a priest, and many, many others whose traditions are different than mine, but who share my dream of a community that can come together.
A community that protects and supports one another. A community in which no one stands idly by when their neighbors are terrorized. A community that strives, together, to dispel the darkness of hatred. A community that works to bring the light of understanding to a sometimes dark world.
The Talmud teaches that a candle is not diminished when it lights another.
My prayer is that each one of us – every person here tonight – will be a candle, spreading light where once there was darkness, understanding where once there was hatred, peace where once there was fear.
These are my remarks from a No Fear, No Hate Rally in Sarasota last night in response to the increasing anti-semitic attacks in our nation.