Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman: Community on edge

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The Steamboat Jewish community is deeply concerned by the revelation that swastikas were carved or drawn on the lockers and cars of several Jewish students at Steamboat High School.

American Jews have been blessed by the tolerance and religious freedom that this great country has bestowed upon us. We feel that same sense of comfort and belonging as proud Coloradans, and overwhelming feel safe, secure and respected here in Steamboat Springs. But when that sense of equality and safety is very occasionally shaken, it calls for a moment of pause.

In that moment, we as Jews ask: are we really safe and tolerated here?

In that moment, it becomes a chance for the broader community to act and say ‘Yes, you are. Yes, all people are. America is for everyone. Colorado is for everyone. Steamboat is for everyone.’

That moment is quite brief. We hope and pray that Steamboat High School’s principal, Mr. Taulman, seizes this opportunity to have a broad discussion with all the students of the school about American values and creating and maintaining safe space for all students. It is important to tackle these issues head on and with great seriousness.

It would be careless, and quite possibly dangerous, to regard this kind of targeted harassment as nothing more than "vandalism." And we ask that Steamboat Spring High School make a concerted effort to show that intolerance and hatred have no place at their school, and that the purveyors of targeted harassment will have consequences for their actions.

We also call upon the Steamboat Pilot to be aggressive and vigilant in future efforts to cover this type of incident and to give it significant attention. For a significant incident of anti-semitism such as this to receive news coverage a full two months after it occurred is quite disappointing.

Lastly, we ask that all of your readers; thoughtful, intelligent individuals who care about their neighbors, their friends, their co-workers and colleagues throughout Routt County, take a moment to reach out to each other and express their love and respect for each other. Understand that many people who are minorities — gays and lesbians, Jews and Muslims, people of color and many others — have experienced a wave of intolerance and hatred over the past six months.

We are all very different from one another in this world. But our ability to cross ethnic and cultural lines in order to see the things we share in common is the most critical and defining feature of our humanity. In a letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, President George Washington expressed his ideal for the citizens of our nation when he wrote, “Happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

Our nation calls upon all its citizens to sustain and defend the rights of liberty and protection of all citizens and to re-double those efforts when circumstances dictate. We hope and pray that minor incidents like these will be handled with all seriousness and a great degree of importance, that every citizen and schoolchild in our nation be allowed to "live under their own vine and fig tree, with none to make them afraid." (Micah 4:4)

(In Peace) לשלום,

Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman

Har Mishpacha of Steamboat Springs congregation

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 month, 1 week ago

"... have a broad discussion with all the students of the school about American values and creating and maintaining safe space for all students."

Why is that discussion needed? Is it needed for the Jewish students? The perpetrator of this hate crime no more represents students than represents SB. I see no evidence that there are any significant number of students that don't understand American values or tolerate intolerance.

The people that need to be have a broad discussion are the school administrators that somehow didn't think it was worth mentioning for two months that a hate crime occurred at the school.

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Matt Hannon 1 month, 1 week ago

I'll bite Harvey. Here's a fact from your neck of the woods. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/16/watchdog-number-anti-muslim-hate-groups-tripled-since-2015.html And the other woods http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/16/living/jcc-bomb-threats-anti-semitism/index.html Place your head back in the sand and work on your 3 R's Both of these stories are on today's home pages so you don't have to look far for facts.

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Ken Mauldin 1 month, 1 week ago

As expressed in previous stories on this issue, I find any attempt to marginalize or intimidate anyone based on religion offensive and disgusting. I also agree that it's important to teach tolerance and that our schools must demand tolerance of our students.

While students on public school campuses don't enjoy the full exercise of their Rights, the First Amendment clearly protects the open criticism of all religions.

Beyond teaching tolerance, it would be a terrible mistake to respond to this issue in such a way that attempts to allow the school to dictate what our students must think about religion.

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Brian Kotowski 1 month, 1 week ago

Given that A) the perpetrator(s) are unknown, and B) so many of these "hate crimes" turn out to be hoaxes, it is not unreasonable to avoid making any judgements either way.

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