Standing Up for Justice Amid Hate

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors held a moment of silence to honor those slain at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.

Rabbi Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom, the largest Jewish congregation in the San Fernando Valley, delivered a moving invocation at the invitation of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who himself spoke of standing up for justice in the midst of hate.

Remarks by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the atrocity at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh

“A moment of silence is most appropriate as we seek to center ourselves and to reclaim our sense of purpose and possibility, no matter the attempts to distract us from our fundamental mission.

“On behalf of my family, I wish to extend condolences to the Tree of Life congregation and all of those affected by this tragedy or, more fundamentally, this atrocity.

“We mourn the loss which took place at a house of worship. We’re reminded of how much our nation has been enriched by the breadth of religious expression, not the least of which is the Judeo tradition and its role in helping to interpret our journey in America and beyond.

“It is a part of American tapestry. It goes back as far as 1790 when then the President of the United States, George Washington, wrote to a Jewish congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, and I quote, “Give to bigotry no sanction,” adding his hope for Jewish Americans that, again I quote, “Everyone shall sit in safety and with none to make him afraid.”

“This seems to me a part of our fundamental belief in our country that we hold unshakable: that regardless of what we look like, where we come from, whom and what we worship, we all have a common humanity. And that commitment we have to remind ourselves each and every day, regardless of those who would choose to behave or cause us to think otherwise. In high places and in low places.

“So tomorrow and in the weeks ahead, we need to hold on to our fundamental conviction, our collective faith, that we will not be turned back from our sense of duty and responsibility as it relates to our collective humanity.

“I want to conclude by quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And to the extent that that is the case, I trust that we will all stand up for justice even in a moment of silence.