Saturday, March 4, 2017

I Was a Stranger, Day 4: Rabbi Ilana Schachter

Today I read Rabbi Ilana Schachter, senior Jewish educator and campus rabbi for Penn Hillel College at the University of Pennsylvania. Shortly after the inauguration, Rabbi Schachter wrote a piece on Forward.com, thanking Trump for actually bringing Jews and Muslims together. She described the interfaith group of students who attended the women's march in Washington together, and how one Muslim student realized the time for afternoon prayer had arrived. A small group of students held hands in a circle around this woman so she could kneel down and pray. Such grace.

In the midst of the Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hatred and terror as a result of Trump's xenophobia and his followers' bigotry, Jews and Muslims have come together in support and solidarity...one small silver lining of what we are enduring in this country. Muslim activists began a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. Aiming to raise $20,000, they were shocked to see the campaign raise $130,000 in just six hours. (They are now up to $157,000+!) Some Muslim veterans have also offered to help guard Jewish cemeteries.

A synagogue in New York is going to a local mosque every Friday to stand outside of their prayer service, carrying signs of support and love. And members of that community have experienced Kabbalat Shabbat services for the first time.

As Rabbi Schachter writes, "The president’s campaign promise to register Muslims and deport those who are suspicious evokes sharp memories for Jews, as have the comments on traditional Muslim dress like head-coverings."

Schachter shares the famous Mother Teresa quote, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” She continues,
"We belonged to each other at 5 a.m., when the Muslim chaplain described the power of beginning this journey at the last third of the night, a sacred time for Muslims when one is closest to Allah. We belonged to one another just before sunrise, when we laid out prayer rugs for Muslim morning worship. We belonged to one another at the Religious Action Center’s pre-march worship service, where we heard an insightful Torah portion, reflecting on the impact of a new and unknown Pharaoh. As we held up signs, as we huddled together, as we shared our stories, over and over again, we remembered that we belong to each other. Thank you, Mr. President, for the powerful reminder."
Do not oppress foreigners, for we belong to each other.

Read more of my "I Was a Stranger" entries here.


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