Along with the nation, we mourn for the loss of life at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. We mourn, too, for the shattered sense of security and community. We pray for peace and healing, not only with sympathy but also with deep empathy.
For so many of us, living as minorities in America, stories like these are particularly heart-wrenching. As a Jewish organization in the Deep South, we feel a kinship with the Wisconsin Sikh community. We know what is to be a minority, one that is both a part of,and yet often seen as apart-from, the surrounding society. Our heritage is central to our being, and we are also proud Americans. Neither of these identities should be compromised.
When Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson, Mississippi, was bombed in 1967, the Greater Jackson Clergy Alliance “expressed their sorrow and support for the Jewish community” by organizing a “Walk of Penance.” They took a stand to say that the actions of a few angry individuals did not reflect the views of the entire community.
At a time like this, we must strive to remain a part of and not apart from. We must educate ourselves about our neighbors, so we can be advocates for them as well as for ourselves. We must continue to work for peaceful progress.
May the Sikh community of Wisconsin find similar support and peace in the wake of their tragedy. And may we all renew our commitment to be good neighbors, and good friends, to all of our fellow Americans.
L’shalom – to peace.