This is a letter I sent to my synagogue community yesterday about the horrendous events that occurred in Orlando this past weekend.
Dear Temple Beth El Family,
I am heartbroken over the senseless loss of life that has occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. I am also angered by the overt and ongoing prejudice that this act represents. Together with all Americans of good will, I am moved to ask you to join me in standing up to hatred and bigotry wherever we find it.
This grim and horrible terrorist attack on an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando leaves me shocked and stunned, and we as a nation must acknowledge the tremendous pain that we feel: as individuals mourning with families who have lost loved ones and as a nation again brutally wounded by anti-LGBTQ violence. And at the same time, we are again perplexed as to why we cannot find an answer to the scourge of gun violence.
We must support members of the LGBTQ community, across the nation, in our city, and in our congregation. At a time when they hoped to observe and celebrate Pride Month, they confront grief. At a moment when the LGBTQ community is emerging from the fearful shadows of prejudice, they face disaster. We must let them know that we support them against homophobia, racism, and the fear of the stranger. Like our ancestors who wandered through the desert, we, too, sometimes wander through the wilderness, trying to discover the way toward social harmony and tolerance.
Let us begin to take strength in the teachings of our tradition, that each of us are made in the image of the Divine, and therefore each of us deserves respect, dignity, and honor. Then we can respond as people who decry such violence and prejudice, and do what must be done.
Further, let us respond by offering more than prayers and thoughts. Let us pledge to stand up and speak out against racism and homophobia wherever it appears: whether at work, in our families, in letters to the editor, and in any other place where we observe those afflictions. This is how we begin to make our stand for anyone who suffers from the hate and fear of others.
Please call or write me if you have any questions or concerns.
Rabbi Jonathan Biatch