Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The attack on Saturday, December 28 at the home of a Brooklyn Jewish rabbi in the midst of a Hanukkah celebration after a rash of recent anti-Semitic incidents in our region impels us, the Episcopal Church bishops of Long Island, to speak out in solidarity and support of our Jewish sisters and brothers.
New York secular authorities have had to boost police patrols in a number of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods of Brooklyn and security has been bolstered at Brooklyn synagogues and yeshivas.
There has been a twenty-three percent rise in the number of anti-Semitic crimes in the New York region over the last few months alone. We cannot stand silent before this fresh outbreak of anti-Jewish terror.
Therefore, we call on our fellow Episcopalians now to boost our own spiritual solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers. Anti-Semitism is a problem of special concern, not to be overlooked, to Episcopalians and all Christians. One Christian leader once said, “Spiritually we are all Semites.”
The Christian Church has formally renounced anti-Semitism on almost all levels of its organized life. The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches soon after the end of World War II and the Holocaust denounced anti-Semitism as a grave “sin against God and man,” and called upon the Churches to readily denounce any anti-Semitic activity as “absolutely irreconcilable with the profession and the practice of the Christian faith.”
Many such statements of a similar nature have been issued officially by The Episcopal Church, and The Episcopal Church has taken a strong stand against any anti-Semitic theological perspective. Theology within The Episcopal Church increasingly emphasizes that the covenant of God with Israel is not revoked by the “new covenant” with the Church.
We call upon Episcopalians to take the following steps:
1. Study the recent events in the New York region so as to understand and recognize anti-Semitism as this virulent, endemic illness which not only lives on within our region but is on the rise within the rest of our country.
2. At the level of our parishes, we should initiate local gatherings for interfaith dialogue which bring together Episcopalians and Jews who are prepared to examine their prejudices.
3. We should find opportunities for joint prayer which lifts before God the anguish of the Jewish community and asks God for greater mutual understanding to emerge between our two communities. Episcopalians should become a prayerful presence in the face of the fear and vulnerability created by these incidents threatening the Jewish community.
4. We should provide occasions for the proper public demonstrations by Episcopalians that show solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers, particularly at vulnerable locations such as synagogues, temples, yeshivas, and schools.
5. During this time of anxiety and concern, please find the appropriate time in your parishes to use the following adapted prayer for Genocide Remembrance from Holy Women, Holy Men:
Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endure depredation and death because of who they are, not because of what they have done or fail to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself: and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Right Reverend Lawrence C. Provenzano
Bishop of Long Island
The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf
Assistant Bishop of Long Island
The Right Reverend Daniel Allotey
Assisting Bishop of Long Island
The Right Reverend R. William Franklin
Assisting Bishop of Long Island