Rabbi Michael Cahana of Temple Beth Israel stood up before an audience of Portland Jews and Christians last month and said: “If there is a Muslim registry in the United States, I, Rabbi Michael Cahana, will register as a Muslim.” Other Jews, all too aware of what can happen when we start discriminating on basis of religion, have made the same promise.
That once unthinkable act of unity stands in stark contrast to bomb threats that have plagued Jewish community centers nationwide, including in Portland. Some in America have even sunk so low as to desecrate Jewish cemeteries.
We, members of the largest Christian community in the nation, stand firmly with our older brothers and sisters in faith. We denounce such stupid, cowardly and un-American deeds.
Our nation, thanks be to God, was founded on the principle that on these shores people are free to worship and practice faith as they see fit. Many of our forebears fought and died for that liberty. We certainly won’t let a few paranoid jugheads scuttle it.
But we can’t stay quiet while God’s Chosen People are once again persecuted. Some of the worst atrocities in history happened because Christians refused to speak up.
Catholics and Jews in Portland have a warm relationship. Our Jewish friends, in whose faith lineage we stand, are being mistreated and we are sad and angry about it.
To those who are sending threats and destroying sacred ground, we say, first of all, stop. Second, aware that bigotry is usually based on fear, we pass on the words so often uttered by Jesus, who was himself a Jew — “Do not be afraid.”