29 November 2014

Statement on Vandalism at Hand in Hand Schools

As a rabbi, Jewish community leader and board member of the Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem, I abhor and condemn the vandalism that has yet again attacked this beloved and valued center of education in Israel.

Tonight's news out of Jerusalem has demonstrated that there are those in the Holy City who are insistent on destroying the will of good people to live together in peace.  But in the face of such acts, we simply will not back down.  Peace and coexistence are the only true path for all of Jerusalem's residents.

As a rabbinic leader in the American Jewish community, committed Zionist, and strong supporter of Israel, I expect Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to strongly condemn this attack and apprehend the perpetrators, punishing them to the fullest extent of the law.

The Hand in Hand School, Israel's only bilingual school system, is a beacon of hope, light and tolerance in a city that is yet again, tragically embroiled in nationalist fervor, acts of hatred, recrimination, violence and murder.

Long admired and praised for the excellent education it provides for Israel and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and its surrounding communities, the Hand in Hand Schools deserves our ongoing support in the face of these acts of hate.

The teachers, parents and children of this remarkable school should know that they are admired and loved for their simple acts of courage--going to school each day, celebrating one another's difference, and through ongoing encounters with each other, building peace and tolerance in a city loved by Jews, Christians and Muslims the world over.

In the face of such acts of hate, we will not waver in our belief that with children learning together and families supporting these efforts, the citizens of Jerusalem and Israel will be shown the way of coexistence and peace.  We Jews are the "People of the Book."  Violence against schools is an abomination.

We will extinguish the fires of hatred with the ever-renewing spring of education, tolerance and peace.

--Rabbi Andy Bachman

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