Rabbis, pastors and imams came together Tuesday to send a clear message to the community: There is no room for hate.
The ‘I Am My Brother's Keeper’ Interfaith Assembly at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami was planned to decry the recent spate of anti-Semitic vandalism in South Florida.
Rabbi Solomon Schiff, a member of Miami-Dade County’s Community Relations Board and chair of the ‘I Am My Brother’s Keeper’ committee, said it’s important to show that “everyone is in this together.”
“We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,” he said, adding that diversity is what makes South Florida, South Florida. “We will not stand by when hatred raises its ugly head.”
Earlier this month, a banner in front of Miami Beach’s Temple Emanu-El was marked with a swastika and the letters “KKK.” The person responsible has since been arrested. The same weekend, a temple in West Miami was painted with the words “Iraq,” and “Hamas,” and a wall of the Publix Super Market in Surfside was painted with “KKK.”
In August, Orthodox Rabbi Joseph Raksin was shot and killed as he walked to temple on Shabbat. While authorities have not ruled out a hate crime, police say there are no indications that the killing was motivated by religion.
In July, the front pillars of a Northeast Miami-Dade synagogue were spray-painted with swastikas and the word “Hamas.” Also in July, someone drew hate symbols in cream cheese on two cars parked in front of a Miami Beach home.
All of these incidents combined led the committee to speak out “because indifference is not going to solve problems,” Schiff said.
Standing shoulder to shoulder, the group of leaders including Imam Fred Nuriddin of Masjid Al-Ansar in Miami, Pastor Patrick Hadley from My Father’s House Ministries in Miami, and Pastor Carl Johnson of the 93rd Street Community Baptist Church in Miami-Dade, vowed to work together against hate.
Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson Jr., who also attended the gathering, said racism and discrimination of any kind is wrong and “we need to make that clear.”
Walter T. Richardson, pastor emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in Cutler Bay and chairman of the Community Relations Board, said when hate affects one segment of the community, it affects everyone.
“All of us are here to bring peace to the community,” he said. “When they hurt, we hurt.”