The following is an op-ed piece that I co-wrote with my colleague. It first appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on April 9, 2022.
As a Jewish rabbi and an Episcopalian priest who share a love for our Sarasota community, the recent increase in antisemitic events is deeply concerning to us. We stand side by side to declare that hatred and prejudice are not welcome here.
We stand side by side to declare that Jews and Christians will continue to coexist in our beautiful city. We stand side by side to declare that mutual respect, understanding, and kindness are the hallmarks of our community.
In truth, we two share much more than a love for this community – we share our spiritual homes with each other. Late last year Congregation Kol HaNeshama was welcomed into St. Wilfred’s Episcopalian Church’s campus, and it transformed an underutilized social hall into a synagogue sanctuary. Our collaboration is a monumental moment in our shared history.
When St. Wilfred’s opened our doors and our hearts to Kol HaNeshama, we rejoiced together. When Kol HaNeshama dedicated our new sanctuary at St. Wilfred’s, we rejoiced together. And when hateful people spread flyers with antisemitic messages in Sarasota neighborhoods, we mourned together.
Our shared Bible teaches, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18). Both of our traditions teach that we are all God’s children. The God of Judaism and Christianity does not hate. Our God has told us what is required of us: “To do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).
Each of us has dedicated our life to leading our congregations down the path of mercy and loving kindness.
In just a few days we will celebrate holidays central to our religions, Passover and Easter. And our Muslim brethren will be in the midst of Ramadan. We believe that these holidays exemplify our shared belief in renewal and rebirth. And we know that by sharing our spiritual homes we are demonstrating to the entire community that love and kindness conquer hate and indifference.
We invite the entire community to join us in declaring that hate does not live here, regardless of a person’s race, religion or creed.
Rabbi Jennifer Singer is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol HaNeshama in Sarasota. The Rev. Joyce Woolever Holmes leads St. Wilfred’s Episcopalian Church in Sarasota.