It was an honor to be invited to attend this Monday’s “Vigil Against Hate” in response to the weekend’s ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. We applaud Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob for hosting this event which worked to unite all members of the community “in a statement of protest against anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry in all forms.” The synagogue noted that Skokie, with a sizable population of Holocaust survivors, relatives and descendants, has a notable history of confronting Nazi ideology.
“Nazism, the KKK, and white supremacists’ evil and violent ethos must be confronted from every corner of our society,” said SVAJ Rabbi Ari Hart. “All people of moral conscience are called at this moment to say: hatred will not be tolerated.”
The non-denominational and non-partisan gathering was led by leaders of local community and faith groups. “The hatred we have seen can make us afraid,” Hart said. “But when we join together in love, respect, and a commitment to be there for one another, we are stronger than any hate.”
SKOKIE, IL — Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning that falls each summer, is a sober and difficult day of remembering the brokenness and suffering of the past and of today. This year, Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob (SVAJ) and the broader Skokie Jewish community reflected on recent terror attacks in Israel and on the ongoing gun violence in Chicago.
“Tisha B’Av is a time when we reflect on the destructive power of hatred in our history and around the world,” said Rabbi Ari Hart, head rabbi of SVAJ.
“This day is about remembering the suffering of our past and moving forward with love and light in whatever ways – both big and small – that we can.”
On Monday, July 31st at 8 p.m. the synagogue held a vigil for recent Israeli victims of terror, remembering their lives, their stories, and their heroism.
Following the vigil, the community read from the book of Lamentations, which describes the pain and suffering of Jerusalem when the holy city was destroyed 2,000 years ago.
Afterwards, Tamar Manasseh, founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK) and Chicagoan of the year in 2016 spoke about her work fighting against gun violence on the South Side of Chicago.
The next day – Tuesday, Aug. 1st at noon – prepared a BBQ meal with toys and games to support the work of MASK. Though the Jewish community itself was fasting, they delivered the meal and supplies to MASK volunteers on the South Side and joined in the spirit of fellowship and love that MASK is creating.
“MASK does incredibly important and effective work in curbing gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods”, said Skokie resident and SVAJ member, Adrianne Burgher. “I am so proud of this partnership and truly grateful for the opportunity to lend our support to the greater Chicago community.”
The event took place at Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue, located at 8825 E. Prairie Road in Skokie.