Letter to the Atlanta Jewish Community:
Like the rest of the nation, I am heartbroken by the tragedy in Pittsburgh. The families of the victims, as well as our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community, remain at the forefront of my prayers. Yet again, the Jewish community has been shattered by unspeakable violence, and like many, I am still struggling to comprehend the unfortunate reality of a hatred and division so deep-rooted that it exposes itself in such a heinous manner in a place of worship.
Rest assured the Atlanta Police Department is on a continued heightened alert, and all patrol units have been instructed to monitor activity around synagogues throughout the city. As Mayor, my commitment to our city’s Jewish community—and all faiths—is that we will work tirelessly to ensure that Atlanta will always be a place where everyone is able to worship freely and without fear.
In this moment of sorrow, as a city, we must press forward to continue to seek ways to combat anti-Semitism, bridge divides and cultivate a greater understanding between all who call Atlanta home.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta
Letter to the Atlanta Jewish Community:
Events of the past weeks have been jarring. Bombs delivered to numerous locations. Two lives taken in Kentucky in an unexplained act of violence. And Pittsburgh. At Tree of Life synagogue. In the quiet, tree-lined streets of Squirrel Hill. For generations, the center of the Jewish community in that city.
That hatred is so difficult to fathom. And we all search for a way to respond.
We offer that there are far more wonderful, loving people in this world than there are those filled with venom. A perfect example was at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Thursday, Oct. 25. It was the 54th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the 1965 Vatican document that transformed the relationship between the Catholic and Jewish communities. American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Archdiocese have, for the past three years, commemorated that historic document with a community conversation.
“Repairing the World: Finding Unity in our Diversity” brought together over 200 Catholics, Jews and other interfaith partners. Rabbi Brad Levenberg spoke to the gathering. He reminded us all of the important work of Rabbi Jacob Rothschild of
The Temple before and during the civil rights movement. His shining example continues to be a guiding force behind the social justice work championed by the Jewish community in Atlanta. Sister Mary Priniski shared some of the important papal encyclicals that continue to guide Roman Catholics in the work they do with immigration, labor, healthcare and more, here in Atlanta and throughout the world.
Both highlighted that those beacons of light provide the examples we should follow as we work together to heal the fractures in our communities.
The table discussions that followed the presentations provided an opportunity for open, honest discussion about how we struggle to bridge the divide that is prevalent in our nation and how we can work to promote unity. As vice president and co-chair of Interreligious Affairs for American Jewish Committee, we frequently enjoy discussions with our faith partners. Those relationships are important, and this annual event opened up the possibility for many more people to explore what we have in common, how we share the same challenges, and how we might tackle important issues together.
That forum was timely, and evidence that it and similar events will make a difference appeared as emails throughout the weekend. New friends we met at Holy Spirit and others from past dialogues reached out to offer condolences and prayers. They stand in solidarity with us, their Jewish family. We can, and must, continue to work together to repair our fractured world.
Linda Davis and Ronnie van Gelder, American Jewish Committee Atlanta executive board
Letter to the editor:
The first duty of government to its citizens is to safeguard them from acts of violence. Instead, Mr. Trump suggests that worshiping Jews bear the responsibility and costs of hiring private armies to protect our people and our institutions.
Why? Because this administration refuses to recalibrate its laissez faire approach to gun purchasing, ownership, concealment and use. Sorry, Mr. Trump, George Soros and the media cannot be blamed for your dereliction of duty. In the meantime, you are obsessed with sending a militia to turn back thousands fleeing from murderous violence in their homelands.
Rabbi Dr. Scott B. Saulson, Atlanta