From the President

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE – January 2020

It is a sad fact that when acts of antisemitism occur we are no longer surprised.  We know that the incidence of antisemitic acts has increased over the past several years and each time acts of antisemitism makes the news we may feel a range of emotions – anger, fear, sympathy, resolve – but surprise is probably not among them.  Such was my reaction when I heard of the attack the seventh night of Hanukkah at the home of a Rabbi in Monsey, New York.

The family of the alleged attacker claims that the man was mentally ill, but really, is the irrational hatred of anyone different anything else but a mental illness?  We know that violence is not always the result of bigotry-driven hate and that point was brought home the very morning after the Monsey attack when a man opened fire inside a church in Texas.  But as a Jewish community and individually as Jews, we must ask ourselves not only how well are we prepared to meet the threat of antisemitism, but how we can combat antisemitism.

At Temple Beth Emet, we not only have been seeking ways to “harden” our facilities against threat, but we also seek to soften the hate and ignorance that sustains the threat.  We do this with love and friendship.  This past Hanukkah is an example.  The morning of Erev Hanukkah we held our Hanukkah celebration at Temple.  Our Temple Beth Emet’s Got Talent performance included our preschool students, many of whom are not Jewish.  These families are part of our community, and part of our curriculum is teaching our traditions and welcoming them into our Temple family.

That evening, we were at Burbank Town Center, where shoppers were treated to our candle lighting ceremony and Hanukkah songs.  Being active in the larger Burbank community helps our neighbors get to know us and we are involved in many ways throughout the year.  We are also active in the local ecumenical community, increasing friendship and understanding among the clergy that lead and teach local congregations.

The afternoon of the last night of Hanukkah we participated in the Hanukkah in the Foothills celebration in the Sunland-Tujunga area, with our Sisterhood presenting a fill-your-own donut hole station and Rabbi Mark leading the candle lighting.  This celebration was attended by those of the local community, most of whom were not Jewish, but came to enjoy our food, songs, and games, and to learn about our people’s history.

We at Temple Beth Emet take every opportunity to get to know our neighbors and have them get to know us.  We know we have friends in our community and friends look out for one another.

When people of different traditions become friends, ignorance is dispelled.  When ignorance is dispelled, bigotry dies.  Light dispels darkness.  Love dispels hate.  That is one way to fight antisemitism.  That is one way to do Tikun Olam, repairing the world.

— IRA L. GOLDSTEIN, President