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March 9, 2017

Interfaith council releases statement of solidarity after JCC bomb threat; will hold vigil today

REGIONAL
Staff report 

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Members of the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts are pictured at a December 2016 gathering at the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts in West Springfield. The gathering was held following the discovery of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti on Mount Tom in Holyoke. (IObserve file photo/Julie Beaulieu)

SPRINGFIELD – In the wake of the bomb threat at the Springfield Jewish Community Center (JCC) on Friday, March 3, the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts has released a statement of solidarity with the Springfield JCC and the local Jewish community. 

There will be an interfaith vigil at the Springfield JCC on Dickinson Street at 6 p.m., today, March 9.

The Interfaith Council has also spoken out recently against the rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric, hate crimes and attacks, and has held panel discussions examining various issues from the perspectives of multiple faiths.

Following is the complete text of the March 9 statement:

Voices United Against Hate: A Statement from the Interfaith Council of Western Mass.

The news this past week has been filled with threats and violence against our neighbors and friends.  We are devastated by the reports of bomb threats to 29 Jewish Community Centers around our country last week including a threat that resulted in the evacuation of our Springfield JCC on Friday, March 3, 2017. We are appalled at extensive desecration of Jewish cemeteries, threats and vandalism against Muslim communities and mosques, and the killing of seven transgender people since the start of 2017, most of them trans women of color. Our Muslim friends are newly vulnerable in the wake of our President’s updated travel ban from six Muslim-majority countries and full-stop denial of entry to immigrants from Syria and other war-torn countries.  

As members of our diverse faith communities, we are alarmed at the rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in our country, and are united in condemning all acts of violence committed against anyone, especially in the name of religion. In the words of one of our members, “No one deserves to be killed because of who they are.”

Sacred Scripture says, “Do not stand by idly while your neighbor bleeds” (Lev. 19:17). Therefore, we call all our brothers and sisters in the Greater Springfield community to stand together in mutual respect and honor of all of us, protecting any who come under attack and standing against hate. We ask our civic and religious leaders to speak out against such actions and to affirm the diversity of our community as a source of pride and strength.  

The Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts brings together Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Buddhist, and Unitarian Universalist communities from the Greater Springfield area regularly to learn about each other, to advocate for justice and to respond to life in our shared community together. We know that all of us share core values of compassion, justice and peacemaking, and our traditions have founders and leaders who call us to extend these out to the world. We are committed to standing together in mutual respect and right relationship, calling each other to the best of each of our sacred teachings, and reflecting that out to our world. As another of our members has said, “We need to educate our communities in love.”  

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Professor Martin Pion, president of the Interfaith Council of Western Massachusetts is pictured during a recent class at Elms College in Chicopee. (IObserve photo/Rebecca Drake)

Faithfully,

All members of the Interfaith Council of Western Mass on behalf of all our communities of faith:

President: Dr. Martin Pion, Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield

Vice President: Rev. Dr. Janet Burdewik, United Church of Christ

Treasurer: Mary E. Johnson, Esq.  Islamic Society of Western MA

Scribe: Rev. Lauren Holm, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Communications Coordinator: Rev. Marisa Brown Ludwig, United Church of Christ