PRAYERS FOR PEACE
Officials, clergy and law enforcement display unity in aftermath of violent acts
NORRISTOWN >> Love is stronger
That was the overarching message conveyed in many forms by many messengers during “An Appeal for Healing and Solidarity” at the Montgomery County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
In the wake of the mass shooting that took the lives of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the arrest last Friday in Florida of a politically-motivated would-be bomber, and the fatal, targeted shooting of two African Americans at a Kentucky grocery store last Wednesday, Montgomery County officials gathered with clergy of all faiths, law enforcement, and community members to say, “enough is enough.”
“This is not about politics. This is not about religion. This is about what draws us together as a country, as Americans, as human beings...” Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Val Arkoosh said in her opening remarks.
“The horrible acts in Pittsburgh were anti-Semitic.” said Rabbi Greg Marx during the invocation. “It was against the Jewish people because they were Jews, but it was also an antiAmerican act because it was an act perpetrated against people who were expressing their constitutional right to worship freely. While this coward thought he was protecting his country, he was eroding the very foundation on which this great nation was built...”
“Oh lord, our God we are here not to curse the darkness, but we are here to find the light — the
path towards kindness, towards understanding, towards peace. Not to sow division and hate, but to find a way out of this madness.”
In the shadows of both the American Flag — which had been lowered to half-staff — and the 911 Memorial, speaker after speaker talked about the need to unite and overcome the “toxic divisiveness” which has dominated public and political discourse as of late.
“We see tragic events play out every day in our country and throughout the world and it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Plymouth Police Chief Joseph Lawrence who also heads the Police Chiefs Association of Montgomery County. “These times make us ask fundamental questions of ourselves as individuals and as a collective people: Who are we? What do we stand for? What have we shown each other and why do we do the things we do?”
“Violence as a way of achieving anything is both impractical and immoral,” he said, before going on to extol the virtues of mutual understanding and cooperation.
Greater Philadelphia Anti-Defamation League Director Nancy Baron-Baer said the shooting in Pittsburgh is part of a larger national trend, citing the national organization’s tracking of a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents last year.
“Violence against Jews, against blacks against gays, against anyone; it doesn’t just happen. It happens because there’s divisiveness. It happens because there’s fear of ‘the other.’
“That kind of hatred’s always been lurking on the margins of our society, but it now has become mainstream. Fighting bigotry cannot be a partisan issue, so it’s really time for all Americans, no matter who we are, to come together and say ‘enough is enough.’ Now’s the time to say that we will not excuse anyone who excuses hate.”
Foreground, from left, interpreter Rebecca Ledder CI CT, Rabbi Glenn Ettman and Cantor Jordan Franzel of Congregation Or Ami lead the singing of Oseh Shalom as the Rev. Ed Crenshaw and Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Val Arkoosh look on during “An Appeal for Healing and Solidarity” at the Montgomery County Courthouse Tuesday.
Plymouth Police Chief and Montgomery County Chiefs of Police Association President Joseph Lawrence prepares to speak at an appeal for healing and solidarity at the Montgomery County Courthouse Tuesday. The rally was held in response to several violent incidents of intolerance that occurred last week, culminating with the fatal shooting of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday.