Speech @ Rally for Good

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 acts.

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 line).

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 these days?

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.)

PAUSE…..

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 media.

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.

Amen

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