03/14/2017 02:42:02 PM
March 14, 2017
by Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller
Last week, I received the following letter and wrote the response which also follows. I share the letters because they are meant to communicate a collective message between communities, rather than only a personal one. I hope that you find my letter a worthy response on your behalf.
Dear Rabbi Saxe-Taller,
Sholem Aleikhem! I am a Muslim living in the Bay Area and a Computer Science Researcher. I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
I am contacting you as a neighbor in the wake of recent incidents of hate against Jews in America. Our community has been watching in great pain and speaking out against the rising anti-Semitism in our country over the past several years. In particular, the spike in bomb threats and hate crimes against JCCs and Synagogues over the past several months—including the recent destruction of 150 Jewish tombs. Each of these events are horrific and condemnable.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) actively condemned anti-Semitism and commanded Muslims to stand guard to protect universal religious freedom. The Holy Qur'an specifically commands Muslims to protect Synagogues from attack.
I want to take a moment today to convey to you that my fellow Muslims and I are praying for our Jewish sisters and brothers, and stand in solidarity with you. Should your Jewish center or Synagogue ever need someone to stand guard, please know that you can call upon us for any kind of help. We are here to serve and protect our Jewish cousins. May our nation be protected from those who wish to do us harm. May we find peace, together.
May God be with you, Shalom
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Silicon Valley, USA
I reached Mr. Ahmad by phone and found him to be knowledgeable and sincere. I then sent this response.
Dear Mr. Ahmad, I and my community deeply appreciate your reaching out to us. We want to reach back to you and send our solidarity to you as both of our communities face misunderstandings of who we are, threats of violence, and actual acts of violence.
We are appalled at proposals to prevent Muslims from entering this country, when so many Muslims are already here, contributing in numerous ways to what we love about our country. Several members of our congregation will be participating in a day of action in Sacramento next Wednesday, 3/15, to express our opposition to any kind of registry targeting Muslims or any individual based on religious belief, practice or affiliation, national origin or ethnicity, and also to ensure that state and local law enforcement agencies do not engage in federal immigration enforcement.
Again, we are so thankful that you are thinking about us and holding us in your hearts and minds. We hope that our growing communal connections will lead to growth in our understanding, peace, strength and justice for all of us.
Shalom, Salaam Alaikum,
Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller
Because Mr. Ahmad’s community is in Silicon Valley and not closer to us, I don’t know if we will meet in person. But I am encouraged by his gesture and inspired by the opportunity for all of us to reach toward each other.