I am confused by Mr. Brown’s letter. He writes, “Needless to say, friendships made at the elementary-school age can be influential in shaping attitudes later in life.” We couldn’t agree more!
Because our children have built long-term, meaningful relationships with each other, they have been given an inoculation against racism and xenophobia. While politicians, militants and fear-mongering websites fan the flames of violence and hatred, our students will continue to see one another as real, nuanced and kind people.
From a Jewish perspective, we want our children to embrace the Jewish value of seeing all people “b’tzelem elohim” (created in God’s image) and to live the commandment “V’ahavta L’reyecha C’mocha” (to love your neighbor as you love yourself). These aren’t just platitudes to be read and forgotten. They are our mission statement as a religion and a people.
Mr. Brown should remember that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. If, as the saying goes, “Two Jews have three opinions,” how many opinions do so many Muslims have? Some people will tell you, “One: and they all hate us.” But we have learned from our experiences and relationships, not from websites.
When 150 Muslim and Jewish children and adults came together at Brown RISD Hillel to celebrate friendship and unity, we learned that we have partners in our dream of creating peace between our people.
I hope that members of our communities will share their experiences with The Jewish Voice as well.
What to say to close this letter? Oh yes…
Head of School
Jewish Community Day School of RI