The tragic shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI last weekend that resulted in seven deaths and scores of injuries has horrified us all.  Acts of  violence fueled by ethnic hatred, including what may be an act of arson against a mosque in Joplin, MO this week, have no place in our society and are particularly heinous to us as Jews, in light of our history as the quintessential victims of religious hatred and persecution.

Reform rabbis and congregants in the greater Milwaukee area have made clear their support of the Sikh community by reaching out directly to those affected, by attending vigils and community events, and by the words of prayer.

During services this Shabbat, we encourage all URJ congregations to remember those killed, include prayers of healing for the wounded, prayers of support for the families and communities affected, and prayers of healing for our nation. If you wish to donate funds to support the Oak Creek Sikh community, you can visit the Milwaukee Jewish Federation which has links to several funds established for this purpose. The Sikh community has called on others to join them in their gurdwara for community prayer this Sunday.

Today, Rabbi David Saperstein moderated a press briefing with some of the nation’s highest ranking religious leaders organized by Shoulder-to-Shoulder, a national campaign of interfaith, faith-based and religious organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment. The purpose of this briefing was to express the role that national religious leaders can play in standing up against any instance of religious discrimination. Actions of hate targeted to one religious group are truly an affront to the principles of religious freedom that have come to define our country.

Rabbi Saperstein commented: “America is the most religiously diverse nation in the history of humankind. Group-based assaults are more than mere acts of violence. They are nothing less than attacks on those values that are the pillars of our republic and the guarantors of our freedom. They are a betrayal of the promise of America.”

May those who were injured know a refuah shlema. May the memories of those who perished be a blessing to their loved ones. And may this Shabbat and the week to come be filled with peace and light for all of you, your congregations, and for our nation.

Read Rabbi Saperstein’s full statement here, check out the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign for religious organizations’ statements from across the country, and let us know in the comment section if your community will be commemorating these tragic events this Shabbat.

Image courtesy of the Islamic Society of Joplin