Combating Hate, Together at the Table


 A Message from Arlene Miller, President & CEO

I’ve written before about the need for civil discourse and compassionate dialogue in our community and in our nation. After last weekend’s display of hate, bigotry, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism by white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA, it is clear that now, perhaps more than ever before in recent history, we must keep those conversations going. Our community also needs to talk about what we are witnessing – neo-Nazis marching openly in American streets, leaving violence and tragedy in their wake – and process its implications. And, our community needs to reflect on our Jewish values – Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) and Tzedek (justice) – as well as universally human values like peace and tolerance. How we can respond to the hatred with love, joy and positive action?

I am reaching out today in the wake of the turmoil in our world to consider the action that each of us can take starting this evening around our Jewish tradition of Shabbat. Whether or not you were planning on having a Shabbat dinner tonight, consider your dinner table this evening. Who is sitting around your table tonight? It is an ideal time to connect with friends and family and reflect on the week that was. 

In that spirit, I want to share an extraordinary resource with you to support building your own connections and moments of meaning around your Friday night Shabbat dinner table: OneTable is an online and in-person community that helps communities organize Shabbat dinners. [In fact, we will be helping to launch this more broadly in Orange County in the months ahead.] We’ve just learned about OneTable’s Together at the Table initiative, a grassroots effort to bring people together this weekend for Shabbat dinners dedicated to celebrating diversity, equality, and inclusion in the face of fear, division, and hate. 

Whether you consider yourself a young adult or a more mature adult, the concept is relevant to ALL: Gather people in your community and network to engage in constructive dialogue with a plurality of perspectives to address deep, painful divides in our communities, and to consider the role we can play in strengthening civil discourse and society. I encourage you to visit the Together at the Table website which includes tremendous resources to guide your conversations and frame them vis-à-vis our Jewish values. And, have no worry – if you cannot plan for this Shabbat, there’s always another one around the corner. Next week, next month…the figurative and literal light of Shabbat awaits.

As ever, I extend my heartfelt wishes to all for a Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful Shabbat. Seek strength and hope in one another. 

 Alene Millier

 Arlene Miller

Jewish Federation & Family ServicesMission Statement: We care for people in need and strengthen Jewish life in Orange County, Israel, and around the world.