As you may have already heard, sometime on Saturday, August 12th, our street sign was defaced in black paint with a message of racism and anti-Semitism. In the days following we learned that this was not an isolated incident, and that whoever did it continued down Wellington Crescent and into other areas of Winnipeg. City officials removed the graffiti from our sign as part of their full cleanup effort. I was able to speak with a Winnipeg police officer, who shared that this case is assigned to a major crimes unit that specializes in hate crimes.
Our mayor, Brian Bowman, made a public statement emphasizing that diversity is one of this city’s many strengths, and denouncing this act in no uncertain terms. You can read that here: http://winnipeg.ca/cao/media/news/nr_2017/nr_20170816.stm#1 While this hate crime did not reach our Jewish neighbors across the street, Congregation Shaarey Zedek, the nature of what was written was an attack on them simply for existing. I have reached out to their rabbis to assure them that we continue to be their allies.
From an emotional standpoint, I want to lift up that it is normal and expected for us to feel fear and anger after something like this. I am here for any of you who wish to talk about how this may have affected you personally. But, as I said in Sunday service the morning we discovered what had happened, this is a reminder that we are doing the work that is needed to heal the world. This means that we are having an effect, and we should not only continue, but push forward, deeper into our larger communities, in order to be that change we wish to see.
What happened to our sign was distressing. But what happens, every single day, to those of us who are marginalized, oppressed, and exploited due to entrenched systems of racism and bigotry is even more distressing. Let what happened this weekend be a reminder to us that we are stronger together — that even when we are afraid, or angry, that we can hold each other in love, and be steadfast in our mission.
May it be so.
In gratitude and faith,