Philadelphia Center City Prayer Vigil
18th_Lombard Thurs., July 13 6pm
Center City in Philadelphia - a city whose very name means "Brotherly Love" - suffered an attack on its social structure on July 6th when a racially-charged symbol was left on a tree at 18th and Lombard.
The Reverend Donna Maree, of Trinity Memorial Church (pictured above) organized the Center City Faith communities to respond to this violation of shared values. Among the other religious communities participating, the congregation of Temple Beth Zion/Beth Israel (BZBI) located at 18th Street and Spruce, received a message about the Prayer Vigil, written by their own Rabbi Abe Friedman.
"Our Sages said: If it is the case that regarding the lifeless stones
of the altar, Scripture says we must not treat them disgracefully;
your fellow person (who was created in the Divine image and
likeness), how much more must you not treat him disgracefully! (Midrash Lekah Tov, Yitro 20.23)
"The concept that human beings are created in the Divine image, endowing them with intrinsic dignity, rests at the center of Jewish morality. Our tradition calls us to uphold this ideal, and also
challenges us to think beyond our own actions: when we see
or hear of others acting in ways that degrade our neighbors,
Judaism expects us to step forward and speak out for what we
know to be right."
Writing from a Jewish context about values shared by many faiths, Rabbi Abe's letter continued:
"On Thursday, July 6, a noose was found hanging from a tree on the southwest corner of 18th and Lombard. Though the hate crime was directed at our African-American sisters and brothers, it was also an attack on the values of tolerance and diversity upon which Philadelphia was built and that Philadelphians hold dear. Along with my fellow Center City clergy, I am committed not to let this abhorrent act divide us.
"Tomorrow night, July 13 at 6:00 PM, concerned faith leaders from Center City will gather at the tree on 18th and Lombard to pray and publicly challenge this act of hate perpetrated to instill fear in African Americans and in our city. Center City friends and neighbors are invited to “take back the tree” through acts of love and prayer. In the event of rain, the prayer vigil will be postponed to Friday, July 14, at 6:00 PM.
"I am deeply grateful to Rev. Donna Maree of Trinity Memorial Church for organizing the Center City faith communities in response to this violation of our shared values. I hope many of you will join me tomorrow evening as we declare our commitment to a Philadelphia that opens its arms to all people.
"In addition, on July 20 at 7:00 PM a public forum will be held at Trinity Memorial Church (2212 Spruce Street) to educate and inform residents about the severity of this act of intimidation, and to offer the opportunity for everyone to talk about its effects. I encourage you to join in the discussion and lend your strength to our wider community.
L'Shalom, Rabbi Abe"
Express your Faith in Philadelphia
Participate in the Prayer Vigil on
Thursday, July 13th at 6pm.
Images courtesy of Trinity Memorial (facade) and BZBI (stained glass window).
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