Rabbi Feingold’s most recent message to the congregation, which appeared in Achshav is seen below.
The tragedy at Tree of Life synagogue was a wake-up call for the American Jewish community. If we ever doubted that anti-Semitism is alive and well in 21st century America, it is certainly much harder to take that position now. Within a little more than a year, we had the spectacle of a mass parade of torch-bearing white supremacists shouting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville and now a blatant act of mass murder aimed at Jews who were simply praying in a synagogue on Shabbat morning in Pittsburgh. Not to mention the smiling photo of teenage boys in Baraboo, Wisconsin, giving the Nazi salute. No longer can we say that such acts only happen in faraway places, in countries that do things differently, and among people who do not share our democratic values.
How do we go forward after these incidents?
There is the question of self-defense and security. We have taken some steps in this area at Beth Hillel. At least temporarily, since Pittsburgh, our doors have been locked at all times, even for services, and all of us have to know the code to the basement door or buzz to get in. (In the past our doors were open when services, programming or meetings were scheduled.) Will this become a permanent feature of our synagogue’s policies? Some find it comforting and want it to continue. Others want to eventually return to a more welcoming, open door policy, feeling that becoming a fortress essentially gives in to hate. I would like to hear what you think about continuing with the locked door approach in light of the current wave of anti-Semitism.