Monday, April 14, 2014

Overland Park, KS

Dear Friends,

If you go on the web site of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, located in Overland Park, KS, it looks much the same as the web site for the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades here in Tenafly. The site is promoting its fitness center with personal trainers, an upcoming concert with Reform Jewish folk-rock artist, Rick Recht, and a series of performances of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Everything looks normal until one clicks on the ad for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and finds the notice, “The Sunday, April 13th Performance Has Been Cancelled.”

One can’t escape the tragic irony. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is about racism in America. That the show (to be performed in the JCC’s “White Theatre,” also ironic) was cancelled because a white supremacist, former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan murdered three innocent people in cold blood just adds to the tragedy. Perhaps, it was no coincidence. Perhaps, Frazier Glenn Miller deliberately targeted the Greater Kansas City JCC yesterday because of the performance.

Or, perhaps, he just wanted to kill Jews. As the New York Times reported:

“In a 2010 interview with Howard Stern, the radio shock jock, who is Jewish, Mr. Miller was asked who he hated more, Jews or African-Americans. Mr. Miller answered “Jews. A thousand times more. Compared to our Jewish problem, all other problems are mere distractions.”

The fact that there are still vicious, psychopathic anti-Semites running around the United States is not something we want to contemplate as we begin this most joyous of festivals, the holiday of Passover. For centuries, this time of year, when Passover and Easter came together, was fraught with anxiety for our ancestors who never knew when an anti-Semitic attack would be unleashed against us. Yesterday’s attack is an important reminder that our freedom, which we celebrate tonight, depends upon the continuing efforts of all to teach tolerance and eradicate hate from the hearts of all our citizens.

It is also a reminder that we need to be vigilant about the security of all Jewish institutions. Please know that Temple Sinai, along with other Bergen County Jewish organizations, is focused on the safety of our members. If you have children in our Early Childhood Center you are already aware of our focus on security and safety for our children and all who come to Temple Sinai. Security training and lockdown drills are part of our new normal. Implementation of long-planned new security enhancements to the building is underway as I write this to further “harden” our facility from attack.

Be assured that we are continuing to review our already high security standards and are in ongoing contact with local law enforcement in Tenafly as well as with security experts. We remain dedicated to a safe and secure facility– while remaining an inviting community. Your assistance by being vigilant, acting as additional eyes and ears, contributes to our security and peace of mind.

Our hearts go out to the JCC of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom, the senior living community, where the third of the three victims was killed. I know the victims and their families will be in our thoughts and prayers as we gather for our Seder meals. Let us hold our own family members close as we appreciate the freedom and safety we enjoy. Let us never take it for granted.

Chag Sameach – Happy Passover,

Rabbi Jordan Millstein

p.s. If you are looking for an upbeat topic to discuss with your family at your seders, why not bring up the possibility of joining us on our congregation’s next multi-generational trip to Israel, December 20 – 31, 2014? Instead of just saying, “Next year in Jerusalem,” at the end of the Seder, why not begin planning to be there this December? Contact me at for more information. The deadline to register is May 1st, so the time to plan is now!