Joint letter signed by Montclair clergy and community leaders
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Joint letter signed by Montclair clergy and community leaders

Rabbis, others ‘chart a path forward’ after anti-Semitic comments at public meeting

The text of this letter was released Jan. 10.

We, the undersigned, are community leaders and clergy serving the people of Montclair, including people of all racial, ethnic and religious identities, sexual orientations and political affiliations.

We came together on January 6, 2020, at the invitation of Mayor Robert Jackson in the aftermath of the meeting of Montclair’s 4th Ward on December 30, 2019. That meeting raised many concerns in our community, highlighting the challenges facing us all during these times of anxiety, confusion, and mistrust. By meeting together, our goal was to learn from one another and begin to chart a path forward.

At this meeting we came together in a spirit of generosity, respect, and deep listening. Through honesty, we listened to one another’s concerns, working to grow from one another’s comments. We are confident that this effort was a valuable step in expanding our relationships with each other and our communities.

We affirm the necessity, as we go forward, that we all reach for an honorable discourse that equally values and underscores the humanity of all people. This must be the order of the day. Hate speech is the antithesis of honorable discourse and must be avoided and rejected. This includes anti-Semitism and racism, but also sexism, homophobia, and other kinds of discrimination. Our civic leaders have a duty to themselves and to the community they serve to model such honorable discourse and to uphold it when calling on our citizenry to responsible engagement.

We have joined to commit ourselves to work together to combat all forms of hatred in our community. We will advocate for educational and social programs that create bridges and not walls between people. We will advocate for the weak, the poor, and the marginalized in this town. Social advantage must not be allowed to become an instrument for inequality or a source of festering resentment. It must be distributed and available
to all.

To that end we will fight to move the leadership in Montclair to develop a plan for our community that preserves the values of diversity and openness that have made Montclair special. This means that the issues of affordable housing, effective education, and adequate services, among other issues, will become a priority in planning and not a secondary, grudging consideration.

We invite all people of good will to join in this struggle. We must learn from experience and understand that we cannot afford to lose this opportunity to save Montclair.

Signed:

Kevin Dawud Amin, Imam
Masjid Al-Wadud

Rev. Clenard Childress, Jr.
New Calvary Baptist Church

Cantor Kenneth Feibush
Temple Sholom of West Essex

Cantor Meredith Greenberg
Temple Ner Tamid

Rabbi David Greenstein
Congregation Shomrei Emunah

Rabbi Laurence Groffman
Temple Sholom of West Essex

Rev. Leslie Houseworth-Fields
St. Mark’s UMC

Rabbi Marc Katz
Temple Ner Tamid

Albert Pelham
NAACP

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman
Bnai Keshet

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman
Bnai Keshet

Rev. Anita Wright
Trinity Presbyterian Church

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