Closing Comments from Jeremy Burton at Community Gathering in Support of French Jewry Held Wednesday, January 14th at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA.
We thank Temple Beth Elohim for welcoming us into their home as we gather to mourn the 17 victims last week and to stand in solidarity with the French Jewish community and all of Europe’s Jews.
We have been reminded eloquently tonight that we came here to say #JeSuisJuif, and also #JeSuisAhmed, #JeSuisCharlie.
We have been reminded of the impossible choice that the French Jewish community faces, between their liberty and their safety, between staying in their homes and the society that they have lived in and embraced, some for generations and centuries, or just being able to go to the supermarket in safety.
We have been reminded of French Prime Minister Manuel Vall’s powerful words this past weekend about the treasured place that France’s Jewish community holds in their nations’ national identity.
I don’t know if Prime Minister Vall was aware that he was evoking an idea written down a thousand years ago by a French scholar in 11th century Troyes. That man wrote, in discussing a language choice in the Bible about comings and goings:
Scripture wishes to tell [us] that the departure of a righteous person from a place is conspicuous, and makes an impression. Its splendor has turned away; its majesty has turned away; the praise of a city has turned away.
The man who wrote those words was Rashi, one of the greatest minds and teachers in Jewish history.
And finally, we are reminded of our purpose here, as we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community of France.
It is not our role to tell our French brethren what to do. Rather it is our job to let them know they don’t stand alone in whatever choices they make.
In this the scripture that Rashi was discussing when he wrote those words speaks as well to us tonight. From the Book of Ruth: