The United Synagogue of Hoboken community is gratified at all the support we received from the people and institutions of Hoboken when, for unknown reasons, a hate group chose to protest at our building.
Hoboken’s citizens and leaders made it clear that while the First Amendment may protect remarkably offensive and hate-filled speech, the people of Hoboken choose the path of decency and inclusiveness. In a city in which people disagree about so much, it was wonderful to see that Hoboken’s people were united when it really mattered: in rejecting hatred and intolerance.
Our synagogue community was especially heartened by the messages of support that we received from so many, including the full range of Hoboken’s religious communities, indicating that the Westboro Baptist Church’s message was utterly rejected by the Hoboken community in its entirety.
We are especially appreciative of Hoboken’s government under the leadership of Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the City Council, who set a very appropriate tone in discouraging people from making the protesters’ trip to Hoboken into more of a media event than it already was, and the Hoboken Police Department under the leadership of Police Chief Anthony Falco, who dealt masterfully with this unwelcome episode and spared no effort to ensure the safety of our community. We also appreciate the support we have received from our neighbors on the 100 block of Park Avenue.
Our task now is to react to this challenge to our cherished beliefs and ideals by making those beliefs and ideals even stronger. The United Synagogue of Hoboken will be hosting the Annual Hoboken Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, sponsored by the Hoboken Clergy Coalition, on Sunday, November 22. We invite you to join us as the various faith communities of Hoboken stand together in unity, work towards mutual understanding, and work together to fulfill our common responsibilities to the needy in our midst by collecting food and funds for the Hoboken Homeless Shelter and Emergency Food Pantry. The service takes place at the United Synagogue of Hoboken, 115 Park Avenue, on November 22 at 3 p.m. If you have never visited a synagogue before, this is your opportunity.
Hoboken is stronger because of the diversity of its residents, in terms of their nationalities, ethnicities, beliefs, sexual orientations, opinions, and interests. This week, when we were face to face with people who despise and are threatened by diversity, they seemed so sadly peculiar. May we react to their visit by redoubling our commitment to tolerance and diversity.
Rabbi Robert Scheinberg
Jim Weinstein, President
United Synagogue of Hoboken