August 2019 has brought us mass shootings based on race-hatred and important national leaders publicly making bias statements demonizing religious minorities as terrorists or people with divided loyalties implying, they are not fully citizens of this country. Americans are increasingly feeling vulnerable and afraid. This situation is untenable, and the Celebration of Abraham must respond.
In the weeks following 9/11, a group of clergy and laypeople came together to form the Celebration of Abraham with the idea that this interfaith group would work to keep our community from descending into religiously bigoted dialogue or action. The mission of the Celebration of Abraham is to create a welcoming tent in our community of people of all faiths and beliefs to nurture a sense of compassion, respect, appreciation and foster learning and understanding among the three Abrahamic faiths while welcoming all to people to join us. The goal of the Celebration of Abraham always has been to bring our community together to celebrate or diversity. In addition to the yearly Celebration of Abraham dialogue held every January, we have called out hateful actions locally and nationally and held events like the Interfaith Walk that began at Bet Haverim, moved to the Davis Islamic Center and ended in an interfaith community meal at Davis United Methodist Church.
The inflammatory rhetoric being heard across our country has created deep divides between and dangerous confrontations among citizens—in some cases leading to the deaths of innocent people. There are people in Davis who are feeling afraid as the rhetoric ramps up. While all Americans have been traumatized by recent mass shootings, some groups like religious minorities and people of color are feeling vulnerable, especially when our political leaders are dehumanizing them and implying that only white Christian Americans are real citizens of this country. This rhetoric is simply unacceptable.
As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught us, “'Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” The Celebration of Abraham calls on all people to be aware of how their speech could result in pain for other people. As people of faith we believe that we have a duty not only guard against our own potentially hurtful speech but also to engage with others among our friends and acquaintances when they, perhaps unknowingly repeat these hateful tropes.
The Celebration of Abraham believes it is time for all citizens to recommit to making our community open and respectful of our citizens.
On October 14th, Indigenous People’s Day, the Celebration of Abraham will host an all-community potluck “Interfaith Feast of Welcome” in Central Park. In addition to sharing a meal, the Celebration will offer children’s activities and information on dialogue, even when the topics are difficult. For more information, contact Helen Roland (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Peace, Shalom, Salam,
Helen Roland, Chair
Celebration of Abraham