Guest column: South Lake Tahoe says ‘not in our town’ in response to anti-Semitic graffiti (opinion) |

Guest column: South Lake Tahoe says ‘not in our town’ in response to anti-Semitic graffiti (opinion)

This past week, South Lake Tahoe inspired me. I was inspired by the amazing outpouring of support, of solidarity and of partnership.

When Anti-Semitic graffiti was identified on one of our bridges, the decision was made to not simply ask for a clean up and move on. Detective Ross Molesworth with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and I explored ways we could use this negativity to discover something positive.

So on Thursday, June 6, together with a broad coalition of clergy and public servants, of citizens and elected leadership, we stood together and said: Not In Our Town!

We do not welcome this ignorance, this hatred and this bigotry in our community. We stand together with each other in solidarity against such acts.

Spray painted on one of the supports under the U.S. 50 bridge at Trout Creek were the words: Don’t Trust Jews. This statement is blatant anti-Semitism and clear bigotry.

Perhaps it is borne out of ignorance or maybe it is one human’s response to one negative experience. Regardless of the motivation, the message is to single out a group, the Jewish People, as not deserving of trust.

While I represent the Jewish community as the rabbi at Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe and at North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation in Tahoe Vista, I am now certain that our South Shore community stands together to say: Not In Our Town.

We are a community that embraces everyone and cherishes the richness of life brought by people of different faiths, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. The inspiration experienced on Thursday as we stood with each other to begin the process of covering up these hateful words is what we are about as a community.

While anti-Semitism in particular and bigotry in general appears to be increasing in our nation and around the world, we have this opportunity to be an example of what community really means.

This moment is one in which we can make the choice to not just tolerate differences, but to celebrate them. It is my hope, my sincere prayer that we walk forward from this experience and not backward.

In stepping forward, we look for opportunities to learn about everyone in our community and cherish the different perspectives we can all bring to the table. In whatever we see that divides us, we also can see the potential to learn from one another. You, My South Lake Tahoe Community, have reinforced this lesson.

I am inspired and I want to express my gratitude to all of you who stand together and say: Not In Our Town!

Evon J. Yakar is rabbi at Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe and at North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation in Tahoe Vista.

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