As a community, we are holding in the Light all those terrorized by the hostage crisis that unfolded over 11 hours at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday. A man with a gun invaded the peace and sanctuary of worship and spiritual community—this is painful and horrific to hear in our Friends community. This incident adds to a growing wave of antisemitic acts of violence across the country and in the world. The specter of this threat, as painfully, movingly captured in this piece in the New York Times yesterday by Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, weighs heavily on us as a community of Jews and non-Jews who work, study and live in closeness and great care for each other.
As a Friends school, we stand directly opposed to the prejudice, hatred and dehumanization that fuels antisemitism, mindful of the day to day suffering it causes, of the catastrophic persecution and devastation it has led to for Jews across history, and of the ways it has dehumanized us all by separating people by religion and ethnicity. Ours is an education that emphasizes the inestimable value, dignity and preciousness of all human life, the very foundation of the Quaker Peace Testimony, and a central theme of Judaism as well. Humanity as a whole can flourish only when we see each other clearly, care for each other deeply and recognize that injustice to some is inevitably injustice for all.
And so, in the wake of this latest reminder of the concerns our Jewish students, families and faculty and staff are carrying each day, may we resolve to ensure that our school is a sanctuary, a place of gentleness, care and advocacy for all. May we be sensitive to the power of language to do casual harm. May we be vigilant to avoid the dangerous tropes and slights of anti-Semitism in all aspects of our program and community life. And may we affirm our oneness. Oseh shalom bimromav, huh yaseh shalom aleinu: May the one who creates peace on high bring peace to all of us.