The Agudas Achim and Ezrath Jewish congregations combined in 2003 to form Congregation Agudas Achim - Ezrath Israel. Temple Agudas Achim-Ezrath Israel also offers programs for men and women and holds Shabbat geared towards children and families.
The heinous attacks in Paris earlier this month have left us saddened and shocked. We mourn with the people of France and with Jews everywhere the loss of life, and send our support and concern.
My colleague and friend Rabbi Howard Berman wrote these words in recent days, in response to the tragedy: “In the face of the ongoing spread of violence and bigotry against our fellow Jews in France and throughout Europe, we stand in anguish and solidarity. We pray for their safety and call upon the world's leaders to forcefully confront the spread of Anti-Semitism emerging from whatever source – both native political extremists as well as radical Islamists.” It was just a few months ago, in my High Holiday sermon, that I warned about the growing danger of radical Islam. The warning signs have been most evident – the attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels, the mob outside a Paris synagogue this summer during the Gaza war demonstrations. Sad that it took the murder of journalists to make Europe really sit up and take action against the rising threat. It is interesting to note that Jews and Journalists were the twin targets of the recent violence. Jews and Journalists may be the two canaries in the mine – two groups whose treatment by society gives an early warning of the erosion of core moral values in a society – and indeed the explosive fumes of intolerance, of hatred, of bigotry and Anti-Semitism have risen to critical levels in Europe and beyond.
Yet at the same we must also forcefully affirm that only a tiny fraction of the world's 1.6 Billion Muslims condone the violence and murder of innocents. Most victims of Muslim extremism are themselves Muslims. Radical Islam threatens to hijack religion itself. Let us join with those Muslims in our country and throughout the world who wish to pursue peace and justice, who wish to live in peace, and are as committed as any other group to combatting extremism.
We pray that in the coming days Europe will do what is necessary to make sure that their Jewish citizens are protected and made to feel safe in their own countries. It is sad but necessary that synagogues and Jewish schools must be protected by troops and police. How long can Europe's Jews endure living with a sense of siege and portents of danger? Yet it would be a terrible loss to Europe if the historic Jewish presence in Europe were to be diminished. There is evidence that Jews dwelled in Paris before the Gauls themselves! Yet these facts are long forgotten and today the Jews of Europe must face a new reality. We are grateful for the existence of the State of Israel as a refuge for all Jews who wish to live with dignity and safety.
In the coming months I encourage all of us to do our part to deepen our understanding of the situation in Europe, to educate ourselves on the threat of extreme Islam in our country and abroad, to fight to strengthen our society in the face of assaults on our values and our persons, and to continue to advocate for a strong Israel, and a society that embraces and affirms all peoples and the Liberal values that make America the world's beacon of liberty and tolerance.
Rabbi David Kudan
Holiday services will be conducted by Rabbi David Kudan, accompanied by Sexton Wayne Freedman and Cantorial Soloist Phyllis Werlin, as well as lay leaders of the Congregation. Click Services for further information on our regular services and our special holiday services.
Agudas Achim - Ezrath Israel 245 Bryant Street Malden, MA 02148