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The Importance of Community

07/20/2022 03:22:39 PM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

Like so many of you, I was shaken and appalled by two incidents impacting our community this week. The first was the distribution of a flyer to homes in certain neighborhoods in Sandy Springs. The flyer, created by The Goyim Defense League, was filled with horrible comments about Jews and was designed to have the most jarring impact. The ADL’s Center on Extremism is monitoring the GDL, though I don’t imagine that knowledge impacts the gut-wrenching feeling of being subject to an act of antisemitism. To our members who were impacted, please know that our clergy team is here if you wish to discuss the incident and/or the feelings that have been provoked.

The second incident was the logo reveal from Cobb County’s East Side Elementary. The logo appeared eerily similar to images used by the Nazis and the Jewish community was rightly concerned. In addition to outrage expressed over social media (as well as in emails to the Sinai clergy about this incident), stakeholders in the school and county, as well as our colleagues at Etz Chaim, contacted the school to make them aware of the similarities to the Nazi symbol.

And this is where the story takes a refreshing turn.

The school’s principal, Marcia Clark, issued the following statement:

“We recently introduced a new set of logos for East Side. The school is aware of concerns about these logos, and therefore, we have paused to consider that feedback. We will be immediately reviewing the logos to determine needed changes. Stakeholder input has been and continues to be, important to our school, and we appreciate those who took the time to share their thoughts.”

While concerns remain about how something like this could have emerged in the first place, and certainly there remain concerns about antisemitism and other hatreds experienced in the Cobb County School system, we should overlook or under-appreciate the statement of accountability from the school’s principal. It is important to be open to concerns and critique of others and, when realizing an error has been made, it is equally important to course correct. I wonder what the world would look if more among us behaved as admirably.

Both of these incidents have illustrated the importance of being a part of a community. We could look to each other for support after the events of the GDL flyer and we could spring to action in the face of the East Side Elementary logo.

As this week comes to a close, may we all experience the rest promised from each Shabbat: a rest from the weariness of the week, and a rest for the opportunity to appreciate the greater and more sacred things, acts, and people all around us.

Shabbat Shalom.

Sat, December 10 2022 16 Kislev 5783