March 15, 2019
9 Adar II 5779

Dear Friends,

Many of us are still reeling from the news about the horrific act of violence committed yesterday by a white supremacist against Muslims during prayer at two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Forty-nine innocent people lost their lives, and many more lives were shattered and traumatized forever as result of this senseless act of hatred.

We join with others throughout the world—Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, those of all faith traditions and those of no faith tradition-in condemning this act of terror and religious intolerance.  We express our sorrow and solidarity-to those in New Zealand, and to Muslims around the world.

We are learning about ways that we can support those whose lives have been affected by this tragedy.  I (Rabbi Zari) have reached out to leaders at several of the local mosques, as well as leaders in our interfaith organizations, and expressed our community’s sorrow and condolences, as well as offered to lend our support.  Please join me, if you are able, at a community-wide, interfaith gathering in solidarity with the Muslim Community on Monday, March 18, at 7:00 p.m. at MAPS (Muslim Association of Puget Sound) in Redmond.  As I learn of more opportunities, I will let you know.

There will undoubtedly be many ways to contribute money to support the victims and the families of those killed.  Here is one:!/

Friends, this Shabbat is known as Shabbat Zachor-the Sabbath of Remembrance. The name comes from the additional reading (the “maftir”) added this Shabbat, Devarim 25:17-19, which recalls Amalek’s cowardly attack upon the weak and vulnerable who were traveling at the back of the caravan as the Children of Israel journeyed through the desert.  Jewish Tradition reminds us to “remember Amalek” and to “blot out Amalek’s memory.”

Throughout the centuries, one way that Jews have blotted out Amalek’s memory is to boo and shout when we say Haman’s name during the reading of the Megilla, which we will do next Wednesday, March 20, on the holiday of Purim. Haman was considered to be one of the descendants of Amalek.  If ever there were a time for us to find new ways of responding to hate and vengeance, that time is now.  Instead of responding to violence with more violence, I encourage us to respond through more constructive means.  When Haman’s name is said, participants can put ten cents in a tzedakah box.  When Mordechai’s name is said, participants can double their contribution!  All tzedakah raised will be given to support the victims of this terrible act of terrorism.

As we approach Shabbat and the coming holiday of Purim, may we have the courage and the conviction to work together to silence those voices bent on spreading violence and intolerance in this world.  May we help to build a world of greater peace and understanding.

Rabbi Zari M. Weiss, Rabbi

Jake Fawcett, President