By Rafael McDonnell
Special to the TJP
Two Dallas rabbis were among the faith leaders who addressed an anti-white supremacy rally held on the Dallas City Hall plaza Aug. 19. Rabbi Nancy Kasten, co-chair of the group Faith Forward Dallas, and Rabbi Andrew Paley of Temple Shalom spoke to a crowd estimated by Dallas police at over 2,500 people.
Rabbi Kasten remarked that the rally coincided with the end of Shabbat, and urged the attendees to use the event as an opportunity to “take yourself out of the external world and turn inward…give yourself permission to acknowledge that you are suffering. (Let go) of the fear, the anger, the frustration, the confusion that led you to be here tonight.
“We cannot possibly erase or ease the pain in our world if we do not acknowledge the pain in our hearts,” she added. “I have faith that the outward symbols of white supremacy will be removed from our city. But the bigger tasks will still remain. For Jews, this was a mighty wake-up call to that fact. Our ability to be agents of healing and transformation depends on our determination to continue once the tip of the iceberg has been removed, to melt the structural underpinnings of that iceberg for everyone.”
Rabbi Paley opened his remarks by saying that the rally visibly demonstrated that “no one is supreme over anybody else.” He then quoted lyrics from the 1965 song Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds, which are based in part on the book of Ecclesiastes.
“Lately, it seems we are in the season of hate that has emerged from the periphery, closer to the mainstream now more than I can ever remember in my lifetime …we are here tonight to clearly and loudly proclaim that the time for love and the time for peace, that season is at hand,” he said.
Rabbi Paley continued, interrupted by cheers from the crowd, “Nothing that (white supremacists) could ever say or do will ever, ever make me hate you. You are safe in my home and in my temple. If you are in need of shalom, of peace and wholeness, our arms and doors are always open.”
The rally was held one week after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the planned removal of a statue of Civil War general Robert E. Lee. One of the counter-protesters, Heather Heyer, was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Nineteen other people were injured. As for the Dallas rally, police report there were no arrests.