sermon: Remarks at the Yaseen Foundation (Friday afternoon prayers)

Let’s Stand With Each Other.

These are difficult times in the country for Muslims and Jews. We need each other. We need to stand with and for each other.

In these troubling times, when the religious pluralism we all value as Americans is being challenged, we all need to say, “No. Not here. Not now. Not ever.”

Friends, salaam alaykum — shalom aleichem. It is an honor and pleasure to worship together and to have the opportunity to share a few words this afternoon. I want to thank the presidents of our houses of worship, Nyla Ibrahim and Lauren Schlezinger, for supporting this meaningful pulpit exchange today, and Ali Shehadeh and Rabbi Lisa Delson for thoughtfully planning the experience.

It is my fervent belief that God created the world and the people in it. I believe that through revelation, God expressed God’s hopes and visions about what human beings could create if they partnered with God. I believe that God chose different prophets to share God’s revelation because no one prophet or one religion could adequately speak to all people. The purpose of religion, I believe, isn’t to make the world one through worship of one God in just one way, but rather to make the world one through holiness, kindness and compassion.

There is much that we share, as Muslims and Jews. We know that. I hope that we will learn more about what makes us different too. Relationships grow when we not only appreciate similarities but differences as well.

These are difficult times in the country for Muslims and Jews. We need each other. We need to stand with and for each other.

I want to share a poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller, a 20th Century German who wrote about silence — the silence born out of cowardice and self-interest in German society during the Nazi era, when the Nazi’s targets were purged, one after the other.

He said:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

So, I, on behalf of my Jewish community, say to you today: We’re not going to let that happen here.

Three weeks ago, members of Peninsula Temple Sholom arranged to gather and protest the travel ban, and I want to share a sign that one of our teens held:

“First they came for the Muslims, and I said, ‘No way!’”

In these troubling times, when the religious pluralism we all value as Americans is being challenged, we all need to say, “No. Not here. Not now. Not ever.”

Let’s stand for each other. Let’s stand with each other. Friends, let’s be God’s partners together. Amen.