Sep 8, 2010

Burning Sacred Texts

A Note from Rabbi Creditor:
Burning Sacred Texts

Erev Rosh HaShannah 5771

Dear Chevreh,


I know I've sent many emails in the past week.  And I had been planning to address the proposed burning of the Koran in Gainesville, Florida this coming Shabbat, which is both Shabbat Shuvah and the 9-year anniversary of 9/11.  Please forgive me for not holding back. And please see below for an opportunity to act.

The classic poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), "First They Came," tells us that hate against one is hate against all:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

We will speak up.  I call upon us all, including myself, to enter Rosh HaShannah with renewed determination to laboring toward a better world.  General Petraeus has called out against the proposed burning of the Koran because it would endanger our troops.  That is true.  But we also condemn this act because it is wrong.  It is wrong on so many levels.  There are too many images of books burning.  Many of them are of Nazis burning Jewish texts.  I've just glanced at a few and feel my heart devastated.  And, as Christian Johann Heinrich Heine once wrote, "Where books are burned in the end people will burn."

Join me this coming Shabbat, Shabbat Shuvah, the "Shabbat of Return," for a public interfaith reading from the Quran at 3:15 at Ohlone Park in Berkeley.  We will meet at the corner of Sacramento and Delaware at 3:15 and together find a good spot in the park. We shall all symbolically stand with Muslim Americans and read aloud in English parts of the Qur'an, affirming that we will not stand by silently while others perpetrate un-American acts of hate in the name of patriotism or religion.  All people -- of any faith or no faith -- are welcome to join us. We will read and discuss the Qur'an for about 30 - 45 minutes. The official event will then end, but some of us may choose to stay and share our thoughts and feelings.  My personal thanks to Robin Braverman for making this moment possible.

Chevreh, we need a Shannah Tovah - and so does the world.  When we open up our precious new Machzors tonight, I pray that the texts we hold inflame our hearts to do good in the world.  May we be so blessed.

Shannah Tovah,

Rabbi Creditor