Too many Muslims and Jews have not lived up to their values in responding to the attacks in France.
In the United States, I have heard too many Jews whose views I usually respect speak of the closing of Paris's synagogues last night for security reasons as justification to likewise close Paris's mosques for an evening as collective punishment. In the United States, I have heard too many Muslims whose views I usually respect talking about media bias as a reason to forgo speaking out against the brutality in Paris. I have seen too many Jews ignore the shootings at French mosques in the time since the attacks in Paris began, and I have seen too many Muslims use the Middle East conflict as pseudo-explanation for the killing that has taken place in France of Jewish citizens.
We are two American religious communities in such pain from the outburst of extremist violence in France that we not only have forgotten each other. We have forgotten ourselves.
Muslim and Jewish communities in America are for the most part glowing examples of collaboration. Just think back a couple of months to the conference at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America with leaders from the Islamic Society of North America and Hartford Seminary on enduring and meaningful Muslim-Jewish engagement. Think of the incredible twinning of mosques and synagogues around the country. Think of the thousands of hours of community and civic service we do together. Think of how far we've come compared to so many Jewish and Muslim communities around the world.
In my own life, I think of beloved Muslim friends and mentors, who have shaped who I am as a rabbi and a human being today. The Eboo Patel's of the world. The Abdullah Antepli's of the world. The Khalid Latif's of the world. If ever there were other mensches like them.
We have too much to lose to lose each other in this painful international fray.
The violence of this week took the lives of innocents, whom we must all mourn. But the ricochet of violence this week has taken our innocence and set back Muslims and Jews living thousands of miles away from these events more than I could have imagined. Extremists have already done too much harm. We cannot let them do injury to the incredible strides Muslims and Jews have taken in the United States to build bridges and prevent strife, to care for each other and share in each other's lives.
My prayer for Muslims and Jews, most especially those in America, is that they find their highest selves, even in this time of pain. We still can be at our best as individuals and communities even when the world feels like it is at its worst. We still can be the beacon of light America's communities so often have been to their counterparts overseas. We still can quash extremism in its many manifestations and preempt violence. We still can undermine hate with hope and loathing with loving. We can still build relationships and see them to fruition.
May the Divine spark help each of us return to that sacred place of peace within, so that we can spread it to the reaches of a world that is in so much need of it. The possibility for so much good in Muslim-Jewish relations resides with us, most especially as American Jews and Muslims. It is our sacred obligation to more fully realize that possibility in our lives and translate it into meaningful action in our world.