A Message from Rav Natan

To my dear Etz Hayim family, I know we have all been thinking of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, and we are deeply relieved that this terrible situation has ended with no injury to the rabbi or synagogue members held hostage. I write to you because it is important that we support each other as a community at this very difficult time.

Like the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, we stand in solidarity with the Texas Jewish community and believe no one should ever have to be afraid to assemble in a place of worship.

As ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt said, “Unfortunately, the crisis in Colleyville is just the latest event to show that being on edge and being vigilant is now very much part of the American Jewish experience.” I know that many of you are experiencing this. The situation in Texas was, as the Federation and JCRC said, “a sobering reminder that we must continue to combat and condemn antisemitism and all forms of hatred in America.”

Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, CEO of the Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism said, “This attack on peaceful Jewish worship, despite our community’s vigilance, creates fear, frustration, anger, and sorrow.” We all feel the pain when it hits so close to home.

Our synagogue is our community, our Jewish home. We must be able to worship freely, safely, and without fear. We understand there are currently no credible threats in our region, and Congregation Etz Hayim leadership is in regular contact with local law enforcement. Our Religious School minyan and classes for Sunday, January 16 already were scheduled to take place virtually due to the inclement weather forecast. Similarly, our Monday, January 17 MLK Day of Service event can be attended online.

We pray that Adonai will always have mercy on us, our brothers and sisters, and the whole House of Israel and bring us forth from trouble to enlargement, from darkness to light, and from subjugation to redemption, now speedily and at a near time. Baruch atah Adonai matir asurim, Blessed are you Adonai, who releases the captives.

We are so grateful that those in the building and engaged in the situation were brought forth from trouble speedily. May we all find our way from darkness to light, especially this MLK weekend. Please reach out if you would like to talk.

Rav Natan Freller

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