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No Place to Hate

Tuesday, 27 March, 2018 - 1:20 pm

20180327_115627.jpgThank you to Curtis Middle School and to the Sudbury School District for taking a firm stance against the recent racial graffiti incidents in the Middle School. I am sure that the overwhelming vast majority of students understand that this is not what we are about and this is not at all reflective of any problem with the values of our community, yet I was grateful to the Principal Jeff Mela and to Sudbury School Superintendent Ann Wilson, for making special assemblies to address these issues and to reinforce the message of One Curtis, tolerance and respect for others, and no place for hate.

I think all the messages shared by the administration and the 8th grade student leaders were very powerful and send a strong message about what Sudbury School & Community Values really are.

I was asked to share a few words with each assembly and was grateful to have the opportunity to share what was hopefully an inspiring message to the students.

This is what I shared in case any of you who have children in the schools would like to read.

Good Morning Everyone,

My name is Rabbi Yisroel Freeman of the Chabad Jewish Center in Sudbury, and I am grateful for the opportunity, to share a few words with all of you today.

I am originally from London, England, but I have lived or studied in Canada, Venezuela and have visited many other places in the course of my work, including many parts of South America, Israel and Europe.

In the late 1930’s, my wife’s grandfather was a teen just like you living in Berlin, Germany and he was expelled from school and denied an education, not for bad behavior, but because he was Jewish. He eventually fled Nazi Germany via the Far East and then hitched a ride on a Cargo Ship and made it to the shores of the USA where he restarted his life and after spending a chunk of the war years fighting Nazi’s.

Some of my own great-grandparents fled Russia more than a hundred years ago, as they too were escaping persecution and violent mob attacks on their community, and they moved to England which was a haven of equality and non-persecution.

I myself grew up in England, which although it has come so far and was a great place to grow up and live, still had plenty of anti-Semitism growing up, including getting beaten up once or twice and dozens of other verbal and other kinds of Anti-Semitic incidents.

Why am I telling you that?

Because, we are all so fortunate to live in a great country called the United States, in which hatred and racism have no place, where everyone is respected for who they are, and where people value and respect others who are different than them. It may not be perfect, but is always moving forward to better itself and create an even better society. This is especially true in Massachusetts, and certainly in our very own Sudbury, which is truly a great and caring community that respects differences and does not tolerate hate.
Growing up here, this may seem obvious to you, and something that is the norm, but I can assure you that America is special in this way, and we are truly blessed to live in a place that respects diversity and does not allow or facilitate racism. It is truly one of the remarkable things of this society and I am sure we are constantly moving forward and making it even better.

None of the above, means we all have to be the same, we can certainly be different from each other, we have different backgrounds, faith, ethnicities, and so much more, yet our differences do not set us apart, rather they can be what makes our society so beautiful. In fact, with the right perspective, we can realize that we all bring something else to the table and together we create a beautiful tapestry that will make the world a better place for all of mankind.

Today is actually National Education & Sharing Day which was established in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter and declared so every year by every US President since. This purpose of this day was actually dedicated as a tribute to the work of my own mentor and my spiritual leader, Rabbi Menachem Schnersohn, who dedicated his life to strengthening education,and for empowering and inspiring others to share and care.

On that note, I want to conclude my words with an old Jewish story about two brothers who lived on hill in ancient Israel. One had a family to support and was very impoverished as he struggled to earn a living from his field, and the other was single and doing quite well from his field, on the other side of the hill. One day, the impoverished brother said to himself, “I need to do something special to cheer up my brother who doesn’t have a family and lives alone”. So late that night, he brings a sheaf of grain and leaves it as a gift in his brother’s field, without telling him that he had brought it. His brother wakes up in the morning and is touched and didn’t know who the thoughtful person was who did this kind act, but he decides that he too, wants to do something for his own brother who struggles to make a living to support his family. That night he climbed the mountain with a sheaf of grain and leaves it in his brother’s field. The impoverished brother wakes up in the morning and is touched by what he found and the thoughtfulness of whoever did that act.

They both were inspired and continued to do the same thing each night, never quite meeting, but always succeeding at touching and inspiring their brother, without each other knowing. One night they met, and when they realized what had happened, they hugged, embraced and cried together. Later on the Temple, the main gathering place of the Jewish people in Jerusalem was built on this very spot.

 

 

Sometimes in life, we have a little mental hill that makes us not appreciate or see the reality of other people's lives and instead all we see is a divide and what sets us apart. This beautiful story reminds us of the need to learn how to climb the hill and overcome the inability to see the other person's reality, so that we can be sensitive and respectful to the other person's needs, background and differences in a way that will make a positive difference.

 

 

This story of sharing and caring, is truly what our values in this country are about and surely what the Sudbury public schools and the Sudbury community represent.

 

Let’s continue to work together to care about others, to reach out to others, and to respect and appreciate the differences between us, while realizing that it is actually those very differences that can help us work together to make a truly better world.

Comments on: No Place to Hate
3/28/2018

Bob Katz wrote...

B"h your words and deeds should be an inspiration to those students who are really committed!!!!