Congregation Beth Elohim
September 22, 2009
On Saturday, September 26, from 9:45 AM - 10:15 AM, Congregation Beth Elohim will be picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church, an extremist anti-Semitic, anti-gay independent church based out of Topeka, Kansas.
They plan to send representatives who will stand on our sidewalk displaying disturbing signs and provoking those entering our building. They try to create enough confrontation to incite others to provocation. It is their constitutional right to picket.
Congregation Beth Elohim does not welcome this group's message or actions in any way. Our focus and mission as a community is to build an inclusive Jewish community that celebrates the strength of diversity. It is a home for individuals and families of all backgrounds to grow and to learn and to care about and deepen their connections to one another.
We have clear priorities during difficult moments such as these. Protecting our members and visitors, and most importantly our children, is a primary goal. Our internal security team is already in action and local police authorities have been alerted. Although you are entitled to your right to free speech, we ask that you calmly pass these protesters and walk directly into our building without incident.
For more information about the Westboro Baptist and for educational materials about responding to hate groups, please download a PDF provided by the Anti-Defamation League.
Congregation Beth Elohim is an amazing community in that it is a warm and welcoming place. This group will be picketing us because of our commitment to those who desire community. Though Saturday may be upsetting, it is important to remember that our precious values are truly a source of great pride. Our best and only response is to conduct ourselves as usual.
And this Shabbat we have so much to celebrate: Natalie Chertoff becomes Bat Mitzvah; Shir l'Shabbat and Yachad meet in a wonderful, family learning and Shabbat atmosphere; Rabbi Emeritus Weider celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of his own Bar Mitzvah in the Lay-Led Minyan; and Alt-Shul is hosting its bi-monthly traditional minyan. Truly a diverse and celebratory Shabbat worthy of our values of openness and celebration as one community!
Let's focus our energy and attention on making this truly a Shabbat Shalom at Congregation Beth Elohim.
May you all be blessed for another year of life, tolerance, and well-being.
Rabbi Andy Bachman
Elana Paru, Executive Director
David Kasakove, President