Community supportive in wake of hateful acts
Temple Bat Yam is more than a place, more than a building, in the same way that South Lake Tahoe and Stateline are more than just places. We have all made this side of the lake our home, in the way that our little Jewish community and many of our friends have made Temple Bat Yam a home for many as well. When we call a place home it is much more about the things that we do and share in that place together, than about the place itself.
So, in the wake of Tuesday, when many of us discovered symbols of hatred – crudely spray-painted swastikas polluting public spaces on Route 50 and Pioneer Trail, and those same swastikas and despicable phrases on the outside of Temple Bat Yam – marring the places that we call home, we were all a little shocked and disgusted. And yet, now we have come together, letting everyone in this community and elsewhere know this despicable behavior, these acts of cowardice and ignorance, have no place anywhere that we share together and call home.
As the graffiti fades – gets cleaned up and covered up – the images will persist in our minds, and yet all of us have taken seriously the responsibility to transform these negative images into positive actions, something which so many have already done. Friends, community members, fellow ministers, more people from the South Lake Tahoe family than I can count, have expressed their outrage at the acts that took place earlier this week and solidarity with the Jewish community. When we do this, we remind everyone here what a wonderful place South Lake Tahoe is. We stand together, proudly and boldly claiming that we will not be frightened into behaving ashamed of our differences – rather we shall celebrate them together.
One might even turn to these vandals at this season of generosity and celebration and thank them, not for their acts of hate, but for their unintended gift that reminds us how much we cherish one another, how much a phone call or e-mail or show of support can lend a gift of spirit to a fellow traveler in our lives. By our constant acts of kindness and pride in this community that we share, we live each and every day denying that such hatred has a place anywhere.
Of the many who have shown us support, we must not neglect to thank the public institutions of our community. The swift and thorough response and investigations of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, as well as the compassion and devotion of the coverage of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, have reminded me that these hard-working community members care deeply with their hearts through their daily work.
On behalf of Temple Bat Yam, I extend our thanks to all of South Lake Tahoe, for your fierce spirit of justice and community. Happy holidays to all of you.
– Jonathan Freirich is rabbi of Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe.