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Concert Against Hate 

11/09/2018 01:53:38 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Last night, I attended the ADL Concert Against Hate, at the Kennedy Center. The event honored seven brave individuals who have overcome hate and spread goodwill, in remarkable ways. They did so despite unthinkable personal circumstances, which might otherwise result in further hate and conflict. Instead, they have become inspiring stories of love conquering hate. Among them were:

Rais Bhuiyan, an American Muslim, who was shot by a white supremacist in Texas. Bhuiyan was able to talk and build a relationship with his attacker from prison, and even (unsuccessfully) campaigned to save him from death row. He founded the non-profit World Without Hate and shares his story of mercy and forgiveness.

Eva Moses Kor (pictured) is a survivor of the medical experiments conducted on twins by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Since adulthood, she has been a tireless advocate for human rights. She opened CANDLES, the only Holocaust Museum and education center in Indiana, and is dedicated to the memory of the twin victims and survivors or medical experimentation at Auschwitz.

Perhaps the most inspiring, to me, was the story of Matthew Stevenson and R. Derek Black (pictured). Stevenson an observant Jew, began inviting fellow students to Shabbat dinners at his dormitory at New College of Florida. He regularly extended invitations to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. 

Derek Black was a student at the same school and knew Stevenson, as an acquaintance. Black was raised in one of the most prominent families of the white nationalist movement and held hateful and terrible views of Jews and other minorities. Stevenson invited Derek Black to one of his Shabbat dinners to meet some of the people he claims to hate so much. After years of difficult dialogue and friendship, Derek ultimately renounced the white nationalist movement in 2013 and the two often speak together about overcoming hateful stereotypes and preconceptions. 

This evening, as Shabbat comes in, we will pray: Ufros aleinu sukkat shalomecha= spread over us your sukkah of peace. We recognize that love conquers hate and the most powerful weapon we have against those who hate us is to share the beauty of our traditions and, most importantly, the values that they protect.
May we be motivated and inspired to combat baseless hatred with baseless love for all of God’s creations.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Suson

Tue, July 14 2020 22 Tammuz 5780