PRAYERS FOR PEACE

Of­fi­cials, clergy and law en­force­ment dis­play unity in af­ter­math of vi­o­lent acts

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Os­car Gam­ble ogam­ble@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @OGam­ble_TH on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN >> Love is stronger

than hate.

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.”

OS­CAR GAM­BLE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

OS­CAR GAM­BLE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

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