Speech for rally
Thank you Mr. Mayor & Debbie Coltin of the
Lappin Foundation, the soul behind this rally, the PCMA and specifically
Joel Aderle and Richard Perlman, David Kudan for the great work you do for the
community and the faith communities and all those from the various houses of
worship in town. Thank to the Peabody Police and State police … your
visits with your cruisers at the local Synagogues and my home is very comforting.
It means the world to
myself, and my family personally, and to the entire Jewish community that so
many organizations came out, including the CJP, ADL, Deputy consul General of
the State of Israel and more…
However, more Specifically, I want to thank
the residents of the city of Peabody and the surrounding communities. Thank you
for showing up today and being counted, and standing by the local Jewish
community, as I know you’d do for any faith that was attacked or maligned. This
is a rally against anti-semitism, against intolerance, but it is not about me.
When I wrote the
Facebook post that started all of this, it did not cross my mind that I would
catch fire quite in the way it did.
But it is you, those
of you who are present and those of you who could not make it, who chose to
share it, like it, put a cry emoji on it, comment on it over 1000 times, that
really pushed this whole thing forward.
If this incident, and
my writing of it on Facebook, caused this rally FOR goodness, Mr. Mayor, you’ll forgive me for renaming
this rally. It is not a rally against hate, but A RALLY FOR GOOD! … and if there will be some actual substantive
good things that will come out of it, more than simply saying “we won’t
tolerate this,” , then as they say in the Passover Haggadah, Dayeinu
… it would be enough.
While it is important
for Jews to stand up loud and proud, wear their kippa and their Star of David ,
and to not cower in fear, and frankly that was the purpose of my post… if we
look to history to be any sort of guide… it was the righteous Gentiles of the
world that saved so many thousands of lives there in the darkest period in
Jewish history , the Holocaust. As many hundreds and thousands did then, so
must many hundreds and thousands do to
today, and that is, to do something good in response to negative and hateful
I will let the ADL
tell you the statistics of hate, and the trends. Yes, they are frightening, and
step one is to call it for what it is, but my, as a Chabad Rabbi and a student of
the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of Righteous memory, is to guide
myself and others who wish to participate, in the appropriate response, and
that is to increase in goodness.
When my wife and I
moved out here, 16 years ago, with 2 children this was a city that prided
itself on being a “NO PLACE FOR
HATE” city. Now, 16 years later, and 5 more children later, that
slogan is being put to the test.
I stand here
before you today, to say, that that has not changed! (applause line).
The City of Peabody is
a city of love, tolerance, compassion, diversity, warmth and acceptance. We are
still that city, and sometimes someone or something rattles our cages and makes
us unsure if this is still the case, but I assure you, Peabody is a city where
there is NO PLACE FOR HATE! (applause
Yes, I am a rabbi here
in town, but I am a regular person, a human being, a father. I have a need to
keep my family safe and protected. I don’t have my head buried in the sand
about what happened and other dangers that Jews face. I simply choose to focus
on solutions, not on problems.
In that regard, there
is a lot of good already going on, and this has already generated more.
Among those hundreds
of comments on facebook, I also got many private messages as well as emails.
One, from Rhona said,
“I pass you and your family every
Saturday as you are walking to your Synagogue, and I love to see a family in
today’s day and age, that still has values and wants to go to their house of
worship and pray to Gd. I also noticed that one of the little girls was walking
a bit too close to the street, and her older brother, ran quickly to protect
her, and bring her deeper onto the sidewalk. How do you make such children
Then there was a note
from a local religious leader of another faith who told me, “that what happened is not reflective of his faith, nor of any
faith, and that he will be wearing a star of David in solidarity. “
There were many more,
perhaps even 100 more, but one final one.
Mikey, emails me and says, “Rabbi, I am
so sorry you had to experience that. I am not of the Jewish faith, but I have a
lot of respect for the Jewish People. Growing up, I was a troubled kid, and it
was Mr. Goldberg, in Revere, who took a chance with me and hired me when no one
else would, and that helped get me, and my life back on track.”
I realize that you and Mr. Goldberg are really
the same. You both are just trying to help out your local community. And now it
is my turn to be Mr. Goldberg. I am going go to my next door neighbor’s house.
She is an elderly woman who has trouble keeping up. I mowed her lawn, and now I
am going visit her regularly, since she is just so lonely.
Thank you for what you do, and thank you for
inspiring me to do better myself.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mikey really captured
the essence of what this Rally for good is, what Peabody is, in my opinion.
We need to turn darkness into light. Sadness
into happiness. Negative into positive.
How we react to
negative things, is the ultimate differentiator.
Some are inclined to
remove with the visible signs of their difference. Takeoff the yarmulke, hide
the star of David, take their mezuzah off their door post. That works for some
but that doesn’t solve the problem of hate. People of color cannot remove their
skin. People of other oppressed communities cannot hide who they are.
So hiding your
identity doesn’t fix anything. In fact, I think we need to do the opposite. We
need to reinforce our individuality, stand louder and prouder in who we are.
The real solution
however is to root out hate.
It needs to be in
un-cool, un-woke, to hate.
It needs to become
stylish, fashionable to do good. (More on that from Rabbi Baron in a moment.)
Back when Kennedy
introduced Peace Corps, it became a good and noble and stylish thing to be giving
to others. In Judaism we call that a mitzvah.
I call upon all those
present and all those who will see or hear this at a later point, to do their
part in rooting out that hatred by increasing in act of goodness.
Do a Mitzva! Replace
the hate with something concrete…
PLEASE TAKE 30 SECONDS, RIGHT NOW, TO THINK OF
SOMETHING CONCRETE THAT YOU WILL DO, SOMETHING THAT IS POSITIVE, THAT WILL MAKE
THIS ALREADY GREAT CITY EVEN GREATER. SOME GOOD DEED, OF KINDNESS, … perhaps VISIT
A FRIEND WHOM YOU HAD A FALLING OUT WITH, BRING FOOD TO SOMEONE IN YOUR
NEIGHBORHOOD WHO JUST HAD A BABY, BE CREATIVE, BUT PLEDGE TO DO SOMETHING GOOD.
WAIT 30 SECONDS!
Finally, hate begins
at home… it is a learned trait… As I posted on facebook. we need to change
the way children are educated. They need
to learn that there are real people, real victims of who are impacted by what
they say do and think, and there is life beyond video games and social
There was a movement
in the past that I hope will be considered by the school committee boards to
make a comeback. It was called a Moment
of silence in our schools… you have heard about it in the news, when my
colleague, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein made it part of the national discussion,
after being shot in the hands, defending his Shul in Poway California.
The idea is, students
are asked to stop for a minute, no talking, no phones, nothing, just closing
their eyes and realizing that they are not alone here on this earth. There is a
higher power, whatever that power may be to them, and that they, each and every individual, child – and
adult – matter. YOU MATTER, therefore, WHAT
YOU DO MATTERS! There is a God and Creator … a reason that we exist… we
are not random… and nothing is by mistake.
If we heal this at the
bottom, it will improve at the top. It may take some time, but it will get done.
So, again, thank you
to you all who took time to come out on a busy late Wednesday afternoon,
fight the downtown traffic and parking, to rise up and rally against hate, anti
Semitism and may this be the last that we have to do such a thing for any faith
or form bigotry.
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