I was pleased last week when the City Council of Kansas City adopted a resolution denouncing an upcoming neo-Nazi rally in Kansas City and urging citizens to register their "moral outrage."
What is especially galling is that the National Socialist Movement, as it calls itself, picked Nov. 9, the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, when Hitler's Nazi regime sparked massive anti-Jewish actions across Germany.
But Kansas Citians are not remaining silent. Several organizations have moved to stand up to the antisemitic sludge that is coming our way. One of those efforts is being led by Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City and its rabbi, Jacques Cukierkorn, co-author with me of They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust.
Jacques has distributed this letter urging people to do what others sometimes have done in response to protests by the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, namely use the occasion to raise money for -- and awareness of -- a good cause, in this case the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education.
Here's what Jacques' letter says:
I am dismayed and disgusted by the National Socialist Movement’s plans for a demonstration in downtown Kansas City this Saturday, the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht -- the date associated with the beginning of the Holocaust. Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) is remembered for the murder of nearly 100 Jewish persons, sending about 30,000 Jewish men to concentration camps, the destruction of 267 synagogues and the vandalization of thousands of homes and businesses of Jewish residents in Germany, Austria and Nazi-occupied portions of Czechoslovakia.
The Kansas City Council has condemned such heinous disrespect by the NSM. Inspired by the city resolution's call for residents to “express their moral outrage,” I am encouraging my congregation to pledge donations to the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, a local organization that fights intolerance and hate.
I urge all decent and caring people in Kansas City to do the same: Choose a worthy anti-hate cause to support as a protest to the NSM demonstration.
My congregation, Temple Israel of Greater Kansas City, would be honored to keep track of any and all pledges toward this end. E-mail the details of your pledge to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will make public the total pledged and the groups that will benefit.
Everyday people can take a stand and make a difference in battling hatred. I learned this anew when Bill Tammeus and I co-wrote They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. Now it is our turn!
I hope you'll join this effort.
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A CHANCE TO SHARE FAITH VIEWS
Cathy Lynn Grossman, for years the excellent religion reporter at USA Today, has moved to Religion News Service and has restarted her "Faith & Reason" blog there. This is a great place to engage in good conversation about religion, public life and related areas. Have at it.