David Robinson, President of UPJ, appeals for donations to support the efforts to restore the mosque destroyed in attack by extremists.

 

 

“Last night in his sermon Rabbi Knobel shared with us his 10 commandments for living a meaningful Jewish life.

The first commandment was “Treat every human being as precious”.

And here we are in the middle of our Day of Repentance where we sit together in peaceful New Zealand and Australia and pray for forgiveness for our sins and ask that the upcoming year may be a better year, a more peaceful year.

 

And what do we have to confront only 2 days ago on the eve of Yom Kippur – the
racist intolerance of fellow Jews. Not only fellow Jews but Jews in Israel, our holy homeland.

The Union for Progressive Judaism received the following note from Anat Hoffman of the Israel Religious Action Centre. Many of you would have been privileged to hear Anat only last month when she was the key note speaker at Limmud New Zealand. She writes to us:

“Yesterday, in the dead of night strangers entered a mosque in the Arab village of Tuba Zangaria in the upper Galilee. They sprayed graffiti in Hebrew and torched the mosque. The police have opened an investigation and already detained a few extreme right wing activists as suspects of the tag mechir, price tag operation. These operations consist of hurting Arabs and damaging their property as a reaction against harm caused to the settlements and settlers. It has already been strongly condemned by the prime minister and the heads of most of the major political parties.

This act is a sign of the escalating racism that IRAC has been fighting.
Now, at long last, we are hearing more voices demanding that the government act vigorously against rabbis who incite to violence. Rabbis who are abusing their position to make such outrageous statements as “Every individual must imagine for himself what the enemy is plotting against us and must bestow the same fate on him”. Another example is a book called Torat Hamelech, The King’s Torah, which states “From the verse ‘Do not murder’ it is impossible
to derive a prohibition against the killing of a gentile.”

These provocations give rise to feelings of shame and rage. We, the Progressive Jewish movement through IRAC and the IMPJ are the only Jewish movement in Israel leading a tenacious struggle against these rabbis.
A delegation of rabbis from our movement is being formed at this very moment to visit the village. But today, so near to Yom Kippur, we must do more. We must offer real practical help in repairing the mosque. We must help the community buy new carpets to replace the ones that were burnt. We must help them buy new Qua’rons instead of the many that were lost. We must help clear the damage caused by the fire, clean the site and repair the mosque. We have
connections in the village and we know that the aid we will give will get to the right place.

There is a famous quote from Rabbi Salanter saying “As long as the candle is burning, there is still time to work and repair.” Our movement will fight the fire of extremism with the candle of tikkun, repair. I am honored to send the first check to Tuba Zangaria for the repair of the mosque. This is a religious act no less momentous than fasting on Yom Kippur. Please join us
in a campaign to repair the damage and combat racism. IRAC will designate all donations received during the High Holidays to the repairs of the mosque and our struggle against racism”.

We at the UPJ know that many congregations have a Kol Nidrei fundraising Appeal and we would not want to interfere with that. However, we also know how we have all felt when a Synagogue is attacked and the rest of the world does nothing.

What we asked of each member congregation of the UPJ, of which Beth Shalom is one, is to make a small donation of $180 that we will then send to help repair the mosque and replace the prayer books.

I am delighted to advise that over 50% of our member congregations immediately contacted our offices pledging their support and donation, including Beth Shalom. While, unfortunately there are some who cannot understand the importance of pledging this support and have voiced their objection, the UPJ stands firm in its belief that religious freedom and religious tolerance are the cornerstones of what we, as Progressive Jews, stand for.

With Rabbi Knobel’s permission I would like to slightly amend his first commandment to read : “Treat every human being, every religion and every place of prayer as being precious.” Because, as we are taught – “Do not do unto others as we would not have them do unto us”.

I, therefore, encourage you to consider joining our pledge by making a donation through Beth Shalom that will be added to the amount raised by our member congregations.

As Anat said in an email to Steve Denenberg, our Executive Director, and myself overnight when she heard of our actions –  “Way to go Steve and David. We visited the Mosque yesterday offered help. The whole village came out. We will try to send photos ASAP. toda to you both
Anat”

At the same time, all of us at the UPJ want to offer very best wishes to you, your congregation and to those you love.

May this year of 5772 be a time of working toward Peace and Harmony,

G’mar Chatimah Tovah”

 

To make a donation please contact the office on [email protected]

or call 09 524 4139.

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