Sunday, January 10, 2010

rearing its ugly head

You may remember that back in September, I posted about a special congregation in Crete that I visited named Etz Hayyim.
I just heard that this historic synagogue was the victim of a hate crime. Here's the link to the article:

Greek Synagogue Suffers Arson Attack.

There is a way to support the congregation online here. I am also looking into how one might be able to send a smaller contribution, if that is possible. (I'll explain that here if I can figure it out.) It seems like a good way of supporting an important historic religious place and showing that good people can stand up against hate.

Update: Here's what I've found out:
In North America, checks may be sent to...
International Survey of Jewish Monuments
Attn: Sam Gruber
PO Box 210
118 Julian Place
Syracuse, NY 13210
Please be sure to note on your checks that it is for Etz Hayyim Synagogue in Hania.

The ISJM is a registered charity (for more information you can see their site www.isjm.org).
Photos of some of the destruction can also be seen on this site here.

One thing I've realized since moving is how much I censored myself (even on my blog) when I lived in Kentucky. I had many awkward moments - but not hateful ones- and ignorant comments directed my way while I lived there. Those awkward things might be expected in a place that wasn't always worldly or diverse. That wasn't any kind of hate act, but it was sometimes hard to cope with on a daily basis. In order to avoid embarrassment of others, I tried not to bring up things that caused these misunderstandings.

I also got some scary hate mail and phone calls which were more serious. In part, it was because I wrote occasionally on religious topics in newspapers and other publications. In part, it was because I was different, with different religious beliefs, politics, or values. Some people thought it was ok to say intentionally cruel and inappropriate things on the basis of that difference.

This was a difficulty for me in my work life. Did I choose not to speak or write about certain topics (for instance, Religion, despite the fact that I'd gotten a graduate degree in Religious Studies) to avoid this kind of non-constructive feedback?

Sadly, over time, that's what I ended up doing...I chose to write on mainly "safe" topics. I've become more reserved and careful generally because of this, I used to be much more open. I also carried around a constant tension that I found hard to explain. I always wanted to believe that good people, religious (or non-religious) people, did not do cruel or hateful things intentionally. Also, those same good people (I hoped) would not stand by as others chose to do such things. It was sometimes hard to reconcile what I wanted to believe with the things that happened. I will rely here on one incident here as an example...but sad to say, there were others.

(I am purposely being vague here--and will try as hard as I can not to give specifics, as I have reason to believe that may only cause more harm. I am even avoiding key words that would draw additional attention.)

Since moving to Winnipeg, I am much more relaxed. This a diverse place--it's also a very tolerant and inclusive place. In fact, I've even had teenagers here ask me to describe what some of these anti-Jewish experiences were like! These kids couldn't imagine being the only "different person" in their school class or on their block because of their religion,race or ethnic background. How lucky, I thought, to be raised in a place where one only reads or watches movies about hate. How surprising.

Telling stories about any kind of hate can be sensationalist. It can glorify the wrong things. So, I try to celebrate the good stuff (and good people) as much as I can.

So, I know about this spiritually rich and historic congregation. It's hidden on a back street in a part of Hania in Crete. When you sit in one of the pews, you get a beautiful feeling of serenity and peace. Check out the links, if you get a chance, and read a bit about my visits there. If you feel so inclined, maybe you can help monetarily support their recovery from an arson attack.

Thanks for helping me speak out against hate.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Nancy said...

Winnipeg is an excellent growth spurt on your journey, it seems. I am so happy that you (and the professor) are so blessed.

January 10, 2010 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I love reading your blog -- all of your blog, especially references to your family and your beliefs. I find it hard to understand how people here in the "Bible Belt" can feel comfortable denigrating the religion of their heritage. Christianity is based on and descended from Judaism. It is a rich and beautiful history and one that I, as a Christian, am happy to claim! I am so thankful you have found a place whose cultural diversity allows you to again open up to your full potential. We care for you!

A fan and reader from Georgia.

January 10, 2010 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Willow said...

As a Christian, I deplore these examples of hate and intolerance. I am glad you are speaking out and I am also glad that you are living in a city that is much more comfortable for you. Having been subjected to 'hate' because of my color when I lived in the inner city, I do understand and empathize with your sense of ease and relaxation now that you are living in Winnipeg. And in my love and pursuit of fiber arts, I enjoy coming to your blog and learning so much!

January 10, 2010 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear about horrible things done in the name of religion.

January 10, 2010 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

And what a relief that you finally can.

--AlisonH at spindyeknit.com

January 10, 2010 at 10:16 PM  

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