On Tuesday night I attended the interfaith vigil held at the Istanbul Islamic Center in Alpharetta to honor the victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand terrorist attack. As I arrived to the parking lot, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go, so I approached a woman with a hijab, thinking she would know the way. She embraced me with a warm smile, held my arms and said, “Thank you for being here, this means the world to me and my community to see someone like you show up.”
I knew the exact feeling, because it was the same one that touched my soul as I looked around our sanctuary during the vigil we held for the victims of the Tree of Life shooting. People from outside our Jewish community showed up and their presence gave me strength. On Tuesday night, other members of our congregation and I showed up to give the Muslim community strength — to stand strong together.
Throughout the program, the message was very clear: We must stand together in the face of hate. We must stand against those who demonize the other. We must stand against those who speak hate. We must stand together.
As the holiday of Purim comes to a close with sunset, may we remember the strength of Mordecai and Esther to stand up against hate. May our shoulders be upright and strong for the bereaved to cry upon. May our hearts be open to the needs of a stranger in our midst, and may our communal gatherings provide healing and strength toward the actions that build a better world.