Letter: “A prayer for acceptance, respect, and love”

We are writing as multi-faith community leaders who are concerned about the growing number of hate crimes that we are seeing in our country. We want to speak up and speak out against any acts of hate directed at a particular group and we hope that parents, teachers and other community leaders will add their voice to ours so that everyone will learn why these actions must not be tolerated in any community and those who commit these crimes should be found and help responsible.

We know from studying history and from each of our own traditions why it is so critical to love your neighbor as yourself, to accept the orphan, widow, and stranger and to demonstrate respect for people of different faiths and backgrounds. We hear the hate speech coming from too many places in our country and we want to counter that speech with language of love and trust and acceptance and honor.

We know of Muslims who feel threatened today by certain policies and statements being made in many public forums and then we witnessed acts of hatred directed at a Jewish cemeteries. This is not only disrespectful to the deceased and their families but it also violates so many of our religious traditions of demonstrating honor to people after they pass away and honoring religious institutions. These actions must stop.

In Princeton, we are proud of the multi-faith voices that come together to celebrate certain national holidays and to unite in support of certain values that are key to our religious traditions and to our country. When the times call for us to speak out against religious discrimination and anti-Semitic acts like we have witnessed this week – we do so as well.

When we gather in our own congregations for communal worship, or when we come together as families and individuals for private reflection and prayer, let’s add a prayer in our own religious tradition for not only peace but also for the end of violence and hatred, a prayer for acceptance and respect and love. Perhaps this prayer from the Jewish prayer book could inspire us all:

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease, when a great peace will embrace the whole world. Then nation will not threaten nation and humanity will not again know war.

For all who live on earth shall realize we have not come into being to hate or to destroy. We have come into being to praise, to labor, and to love.
Compassionate God bless the leaders of all nations with the power of compassion. Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture: I will bring peace to the land and you shall lie down, and no one shall terrify you.

I will rid the land of vicious beasts and it shall not be ravaged by war. Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream. Let peace fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.

Rabbi Adam Feldman
The Jewish Center of Princeton

Rev. David A. Davis
Nassau Presbyterian Church

Rev. Jana Purkish-Brash
Princeton United Methodist Church

Rev. Bob Moore
Coalition for Peace Action

Leaders of the Princeton Clergy Association

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