Prompted by the vandalism at the Temple Beth Shalom and the Holocaust Memorial in Spokane earlier this year, members of the Moscow Interfaith Association are developing a series of events about antisemitism and the roots of hate.
Working with members of the Jewish Community of the Palouse, the Moscow Human Rights Commission and the Latah County Human Rights Task Force, the Interfaith Association seeks to call attention to the rise in harassment, vandalism and violence directed against Jews in the United States.
Our local “teach-in and preach-in” follows the April 7-8 observance of Yom HaShoah, the date of remembrance of the Holocaust, in which 17.5 million people, including as many as 6 million Jews, were systematically tortured and murdered throughout Europe by the Nazi regime from 1939 to 1945.
In February, the Moscow Interfaith Association sent a letter of solidarity and support to the congregation of Temple Beth Shalom, outlining our plans: “We have each committed to leading a worship service and/or classes in our own religious communities that explicitly name our commitment to combating hate, and ground that commitment in our respective theologies.”
The Latah County Human Rights Task Force is seeking resources on this topic from the Anti-Defamation League and the Wassmuth Human Rights Center in Boise. Other resources are available from the Southern Poverty Law Center program called Learning Justice.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church focused on the liturgical roots of antisemitism in preaching and worship throughout Lent and Holy Week. The congregation chose updated scholarly translations of problematic passages in the Gospel according to John, as well as experimental language in the Good Friday liturgy that avoids blaming “the Jews” for the death of Jesus.
At the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevens presented a preach-in/teach-in on the roots of hate, exploring how to counter hate crimes and antisemitism in our local context.
Other participating religious communities include St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, the First United Methodist Church of Moscow, the United Church of Moscow, the Baha’i Community and the First Presbyterian Church of Moscow, which has sponsored a reading group on dismantling racist structures.
Later this spring, the Latah County Human Rights Task Force, the Jewish Community of the Palouse and the Moscow Human Rights Commission hope to show a film entitled, “Shared Legacies,” a documentary about cooperation between Jews and Blacks in the struggle for human rights. The Lutheran campus ministry at the University of Idaho plans a lecture and discussion.
The preamble of the 2021 Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, states “ … while antisemitism has certain distinctive features, the fight against it is inseparable from the overall fight against all forms of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious and gender discrimination.”
The Moscow Interfaith Association invites the community’s participation in this project to expand the conversation about the continued threat to the social fabric posed by vandalism, harassment and violence against our Jewish siblings.
Rivetti, priest associate at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, wrote this column on behalf of the Moscow Interfaith Association.