Portsmouth Stands Together

Written by: Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman

Dear friends,

As mentioned in today’s “This Week” bulletin, a suspect has been charged in connection with the February vandalism at Temple Israel and other Portsmouth locations.

We are grateful for law enforcement, whose members have been working hard to serve justice, find the perpetrator, and hold them to account; for the courage and strength of other victims, who reached out to support one another in a painful and frightening situation; for civic leaders from City Hall to the public library, who spoke out against intolerance and promoted community dialogue and education; for school children, faith leaders, neighbors, organizations like Jewish Federation of NH, ADL, and American Jewish Committee, who offered kind words, donations towards cleanup, and beautiful flowers left on the synagogue steps. Truly, “love blooms here.”

But for that love to flourish, for our community to feel safe, there is much work to do. We must nurture our relationships, be loud and proud in support of the marginalized, and speak out against bigotry. Acts of violence, graffiti in the night, and hateful messages on social media do not take place in a vacuum. They are encouraged by those who seek to divide our country into “us” and “them,” who preach grievance, hatred, and fear. Together, we can be stronger. Together, we can amplify a different message.

Tonight, at our evening Shabbat service, we will honor and celebrate new immigrants and refugees. Like so many of our ancestors, these families have come to America fleeing war and other calamities, seeking a better life for themselves and their children. With song and prayer, we welcome them and remember our own families’ freedom journeys. May we continue this work of building and rebuilding, ever vigilant and always grateful that we stand together.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman

Robert Zimman, President

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