As we begin a new semester at Union next week, we do so with a profound sense of hope for what lies ahead and simultaneously grave concern over the hatreds that burden our world.
Last weekend, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Synagogue Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, lovingly welcomed into their shul a person not previously known to the community. Rabbi Charlie is well known to many in the New York Jewish community and beyond for his generous spirit of ecumenicity and interreligious cooperation. In the eleven hours that followed, the world watched in horror as this person proceeded to hold hostage those who had welcomed him. We join with our faith-community siblings across the country in our experience of enormous relief that the hostages escaped without physical harm. At the same time, we are reminded of the pervasive and long-existing reality of antisemitism and the hateful rage that fueled this act.
At Union, we stand with Synagogue Beth Israel and Jewish communities across the land, as our Jewish siblings continue to grapple with the aftershock of this horrible event. Jewish leaders called for this past week’s Shabbat observances to be a time of remembrance and solidarity both within and beyond the Jewish community. The trauma this event engenders and the historical memories of antisemitic violence it necessarily calls up cannot help but be vast and devastating. We pray that all those involved find deep healing and peace. We also stand with our peace-loving neighbors everywhere as we pledge to continue our collective work to become ever-safer and ever-more-open communities of faith. We yearn for the day when hatred is no more, and where we can all dwell in our homes – including our homes of worship – without fear of violence or exclusion. Let hatred not have the last word but rather let us transform hatred into the love and justice for all.
Rev. Dr. Serene Jones
President, Union Theological Seminary
Johnston Family Chair in Religion and Democracy
Rev. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean
Christiane Brooks Johnson Chair of Psychology and Religion
The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas
Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union
Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology