Join us Monday at 1:30, Beth Israel Synagogue

July 30, 2009 at 9:59 pm Leave a comment

THIS IS A POST BY ONE OF STAR’S MEMBERS FROM THE STAR CITY HARBINGER, DISCUSSING THE HATE-MESSAGE GRAFFITI FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK AND INVITING CITIZENS TO COME TO A SERVICE MONDAY TO SUPPORT VICTIMS.

THE UPSIDE OF HATE-MESSAGE GRAFFITI

Graffiti has come to symbolize much over decades of existence – urban blight, juvenile delinquency, and eventually –thanks to talents like Keith Haring, Basquiat and others that followed– even a popular form of subversive art – an upside, to be sure.

But that’s not the kind of upside I want to discuss here.

Because the darker side of graffiti, the kind with expressions of hatred, symbolizes something deeply troubling in our culture. And this week, it showed up right here inRoanoke.

Racial slurs were painted on the Horizon Health Care building, along with anti-semitic slurs on the doors of Beth Israel Synagogue (not to mention several tire slashings in Old Southwest). No arrests have been made.

To even try and write about this under a perky headline is difficult, because I wish with all my heart that things like this never happened at all, anywhere. Some might say that they are only words, but if you’ve ever been on the wrong end of them, you know it’s much more than that. It’s a terrifying reminder that, even though we have laws that say otherwise, there are those out there who would hate you for who you are, not for what you do. This is an utterly hopeless feeling, and it lurks inside millions of us every day who are trying desperately to embrace the shining American ideal of celebrated diversity, and to believe that it could actually be true. All it takes is one scrawled word to shatter that hope.

Fortunately, I am able to report that something good does seem to be happening in Roanoke as a result of these crimes. People are coming together. First it was to repair damaged property, and now it’s to repair the more lasting violations. They are focusing on what they have in common rather than how they are different. They are finding comfort in surprising places. This is all good…better than good. It’s brought about a sort of healing that can transcend the original transgression.

You have an opportunity to be a part of that healing.

On Monday at 1:30 pm, Beth Israel’s Rabbi Werbin will be leading a service for citizens of all denominations to stand together and pray for the peace to overcome prejudices. As someone who grew up worshipping in Beth Israel, I have no more reason to be there than anyone in our community who would support those whose rights have been psychologically, spiritually and emotionally threatened. The Reverend Stephen Stanley of Christ Episcopal Church has sent out a letter asking all Roanokers to congregate at Beth Israel on Monday. As Stanley says,

‘it is the moral obligation of the religious community of Roanoke and all citizens to stand with the victims of hatred and destruction’. He urges us to ‘preach and teach our children to live as the whole family of God and work together to overcome hatred and violence and advocate for peace and religious freedom for all Americans, and all people, as God has called us to do.’

Now, those are some words for all to see.

Hope to see you there.

————

Beth Israel Synagogue 

920 Franklin Rd SW

Roanoke, VA 24016-4333
(540) 343-0289

 

The Upside is a weekly column for SCH by Sharon Rapoport

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STAR CALENDAR

MAY - Local Colors... JUNE - Juneteenth... JULY - On The Edge (Floyd, VA)... AUG - Steppin' Out (Blacksburg, VA)... SEPT - Henry Street Festival, Pride Parade... OCT - Bridgewalk, Latino Festival... NOV -Open Doors Series.... DEC - Taubman Museum/Wine and Wonder... JAN - Writer's Series... FEB - Harrison Museum - Black History Month... MAR -Interfaith Event... APR/MAY - Down by Downtown STAR Festival

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