Dear members of the Shames JCC community,
While the JCC was filled this past week with the joyful sounds and sights of families enjoying the pool, children engaging in our post-camp programs, adult’s learning and connecting. and plenty of sweating in the gymnasium and fitness center, we are also quite cognizant of the horrific events that transpired in Charlottesville and the unrest and subsequent divisive discourse that bled into our reality as well.
As a Jewish community center committed to welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds who seek to find common ground and community, we know that hatred, racism, and Antisemitism are both anti-American and diametrically opposite to our core values as an institution. The Jewish people as well as other groups have experienced prejudice and violence in both subtle, insidious ways and on a more tragic, grand scale. Rallies, speeches, and acts of viciousness aimed at the “other” cannot be left unchallenged lest they spread further and gain legitimacy, fueled by the oxygen it gathers as it moves from the margins to the public spaces. Now is not a time for indifference or remaining quiet. We will double-down on our deeply held belief that through a commitment to building a sense of common unity, we strengthen ourselves and the entire community.
As an agency, protecting our membership is paramount. We will also continue our unwavering resolve to provide a safe and secure environment for the children in our programs, our adult members, and our staff, remaining vigilant and prepared for any potential increased security concerns.
May all that is good about our community and our country serve as the cleansing antidote to this poisonous assemblage that has surfaced and may we continue together to build an empathetic, respectful, and open community at the JCC and in our broader community in the Rivertowns and beyond.
Rabbi Andrew Ergas,