A Response to New Zealand: We Should Not Accept These Horrid Deeds as “Normal”

I received a message at 4:00 a.m. this morning. It was from a person we work with in Emergency Services. He called to express sadness and concern after the murders at the mosques in New Zealand. It was a remarkable call for its humanity, compassion and the recognition that a mass murder at a mosque across the planet impacts us all. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that we have felt this sadness so often we recognize the pattern of shock, grief, anger and helplessness. I am feeling it now.

The danger is that this kind of hate is becoming normalized. But, we should accept neither these horrid deeds nor the words that ignite them as “normal.” They are not and never will be. A few months ago, it was a synagogue in Pittsburgh, today it is mosques in New Zealand. What will it be tomorrow? We are witnessing a global pandemic of hate. The people who spread this are trafficking in fear and violence. It is an illness and an ancient evil which aims to infect our sense of safety, our sense of community and the fabric of common humanity. And, like all diseases, doing nothing just allows it to spread. Words are obviously inadequate. I don’t know what the right response is, but as an organization we will continue to be a part of it. We will continue to reach out, to stand with and seek to lift up.

This message from Rabbi Will Berkovitz, Chief Executive Officer of JFS, was sent to the community on Friday, March 15, 2019, following the mass shootings in New Zealand.

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