Monday, June 14, 2021

Rabbi Tom Alpert on the FHS incident

Via Rabbi Tom Alpert:  "I want to share with you the email that I sent to Temple Etz Chaim about the swastika incident.  "
"Dear Temple Etz Chaim community,

Like many of you, I was saddened and angered by the news that yesterday grafitti depicting swastikas was found in a Boys’ bathroom at Franklin High School.  I commend Principal Joshua Hanna for his swift response.  While hindsight will and can yield ideas about how to improve that response, it is welcome that he quickly insisted that this sort of hate symbol has no place in the schools.

Of course, we in the Jewish community feel the special sting of this symbol, and while it can be addressed to others as well, it always includes us.  It is particularly concerning in light of two factors.  One is that this is not the first incident of swastikas being displayed in Franklin schools.  The other is that we have seen a spike in anti-Semitic activities over the last few years, and in particular over the last few weeks.  I have spoken about antisemitism a lot lately, most recently on my radio show with Rev. Kathleen McAdams and Rev. Eric Cherry, “A Priest, a Minister, and a Rabbi Walk Into a Radio Station.”  You can hear what I and the other participants had to say by listening to the show on Franklin Public Radio, WPFR, or checking out the podcast when it is available (which will be soon).

I serve on a group started this year called the Franklin Freedom Team, which is designed to address hate and bias concerns before they boil over.  Among the members of the Team are School Superintendent Dr. Sara Ahern and Police Chief T.J. Lynch.  Both have reached out to our community through me.  Dr. Ahern spoke this morning to the High School assembly and made her intolerance of this intolerance plain.  She also is developing plans to get ahead of these incidents in the future, and members of the Team have given her their input on her initial suggestions.  Chief Lynch assured me that the Police Department is investigating this matter thoroughly.

For anyone with children in Franklin High School, please know that I am ready to speak with them about their experiences if that would be of help to them.  And please let other students who are not in our Temple community know that I am here for them as well.

I know that antisemitism does not disappear and must be confronted regularly.  But I also believe, as I have since I arrived in Franklin, that this is a good community that welcomes us.  Let us hold both truths close to us, that we may struggle for justice but never despair of our fellow human beings.

Shabbat shalom.
Rabbi Tom Alpert"

Shared from Facebook: 

“A Priest, a Minister, and a Rabbi Walk Into a Radio Station”
“A Priest, a Minister, and a Rabbi Walk Into a Radio Station”

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