Along with a dozen other leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities, we stand together in solidarity in the face of violence and threats.
In recent weeks, mosques in Davis and Roseville were violently attacked. In recent days and weeks, mosques and synagogues across the country were threatened, dozens of Jewish community centers received bomb threats, mosques were burned in Santa Barbara and Tampa, Fla., and more than 200 graves were desecrated at Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
And so we stand together, arm-in-arm, and call out in peaceful resistance: This must end.
We know from the horrors of history that silence is the complicit enabler of such hate and violence. We know well the danger of such intolerance and bigotry; we also know well that far stronger are the forces of understanding, wisdom and compassion.
There is no unified political view in Islam or in Judaism. However, there is a unified understanding shared in both traditions: All humanity is imbued with God’s divinity. And it is our moral imperative to protect and care for ourselves, our neighbors, the downtrodden and the stranger. We stand as strongly against the oppression of our neighbors of a different faith as we stand against the oppression of our own faith community. Scapegoating individuals or communities based on religion, national origin, race or immigration status is immoral, unjust and often based on mistruths about the source of our strengths and challenges as a country.
America is made up of a great diversity; and it is diversity that makes America great. This was no accident. The U.S. was founded as a nation on the principle of unity, but not uniformity. It was a radical experiment in democracy, and 240 years later we are still engaged in that endeavor, because democracy and civil society based on values rather than fears is never completed but a continual process.
We believe we are unified in our fundamental, common values. Protestant or Catholic; Jewish or Muslim; Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist; we all teach our children both wisdom and values. All of our faith traditions implore us to care about and respect each other, regardless of our differences.
While we know we must look inside our own hearts and communities for seeds of fear and anger, we also call upon our political leaders, locally and nationally, to condemn in no uncertain terms this wave of violence and intolerance. We call upon our political leaders to join us and look with integrity at what has spawned this recent explosion of religious hate crimes in the U.S. We call upon people of all faiths, and of no religious faith, not to tolerate the toxic landscape that cultivates these seeds of hate and violence. Together we continue to cultivate deeper understanding, cooperation and mutual respect.
Rabbi Seth Castleman is chair of the Sacramento Area Council of Rabbis and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Basim Elkarra is director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sacramento Chapter, and can be contacted at email@example.com. Our colleagues who also signed this letter with us can be found at this web address bit.ly/2lXH45N.