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A flag reading “when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty” and bearing the logo of the Three Percenters on display amid the Washington rioting, Jan. 6, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

During times of national crisis, people of faith often turn to their religious leaders for guidance. Rabbis might offer a political opinion, a reference to a relevant religious text or simply words of comfort and an offer to talk.

In the aftermath of the riot last week at the U.S. Capitol, local rabbis and congregations from across the Jewish spectrum responded on social media and in emails to congregants.

To give readers a sense of how the St. Louis Jewish community reacted to the unsettling events on Jan. 6, we have collected excerpts of responses from local Jewish synagogues and organizations.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein, Bais Abraham Congregation

That spirit of celebrating differences of opinion is a central value of our community. And as part of that ethos, I, like many pulpit rabbis, generally take great care to steer clear of controversial, potentially partisan political issues, lest those who don't share our political positions feel unwelcome in our communities. However, I think that, like many pulpit rabbis, I have let my fear of being overly political keep me from speaking out when the Torah and my own moral compass demanded I do so.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein

Rabbi Garth Silberstein

Just as embracing differences of opinion is a Jewish value, it is also a mitzvah to speak up and rebuke people when they engage in wrongdoing. The pluralism of makhlokes l'sheim shamayim means that no one person or school of thought has a monopoly on truth. It does not mean that there is no such thing as truth, or that all views are equally tolerable. I think part of why we have arrived at this day is that too often we have allowed our laudable desire to be respectful of differences to prevent us from speaking out and naming dangerous, false and immoral statements and actions for what they are.

(Read the statement in its entirety here.)

Rabbi James Stone Goodman, Central Reform Congregation

Since the day after the first Presidential debate, Susan [Talve] and I have been teaching, talking, and singing Psalms each morning, six days a week.

We were so dispirited the night of the debate that we looked at each other and said: “We have to do something.”

Rabbi James Stone Goodman

Rabbi James Stone Goodman

We've learned that there is a place in many of the psalms that I call a "pivot" where something begins to change. Sometimes dramatically, sometimes methodically, but something consequential changes for the better.

I think that’s where we are in our country. We have been stuck, we have come to a pivot, and if we’re conscientious, the change will be dramatic.

(Read the statement in its entirety here.)

Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation

I know that some of you are ready to give up on our promise that the future still holds hope for you and your generation. Please don’t.

You are part of a people that rejects hate in any form.

Rabbi Susan Talve

Rabbi Susan Talve

You are part of a faith tradition that always cares for the most vulnerable.

You are part of a congregation that rejects the premises of White Supremacy and White Nationalism and embraces the movements that fight fascism in all its forms and affirm that Black lives must Matter.

We are listening. We love you. We will keep working for your future because we know you and you give us hope, too.

(Read the statement in its entirety here.)

Rabbi Janine Schloss, Shir Hadash Reconstructionist Community

At every funeral at which I officiate, I begin by reminding us that words never seem adequate when we need to speak about loss or pain or love. Yet despite the inadequacy of our words, we need to try to speak, to listen, and to remember.

Rabbi Schloss

Rabbi Janine Schloss

Many of us will remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard that the walls of the Capitol building were breached on Wednesday afternoon. I heard the news as I was preparing to say opening prayers at the funeral of Colonel (ret.) Harvey B. Meyer, father of our dear member Sue Koppel. As I watched him receive full military honors for his lifetime of service, the dichotomy between what was happening before me and what was happening in Washington, D.C., could not have been more stark.

No matter how hard we may argue over our politics, no matter how frustrated we may get, no matter how far we may feel from the “other,” we must give blessings every day for living in a democratic country. Dare I say that we must remember to love our country, even when we may not always love what it looks like. Because of this deep love, the loss and pain we feel when the country seems to be tearing apart is very real.

(Read the statement and a poem Schloss shared here.)

Congregation Shaare Emeth clergy

In reflecting upon the events of a long and disturbing day, we are almost without words. Never in our lifetimes could we have thought that we would witness an attack on the United States Capitol by domestic terrorists.

At the same time, we are not surprised. After being baited and encouraged by the President of the United States to “stand back and stand by;” after hearing many elected officials (including Missouri’s Senator [Josh] Hawley) refusing to accept the results of a fair and impartial election — results which have been verified by both election officials and the courts; after circulating conspiracy theories and lies within their own echo chambers, the perpetrators of today’s violent and deadly assault on the seat of our nation’s democracy did the inevitable.

Their intent was to disrupt a peaceful transition of power, and thankfully, in the end they failed. However, their actions remind us that we have much work to do as individuals, as Reform Jews, and as a nation to overcome fear, to dismantle the white supremacist foundations upon which this country was built and to truly value the lives and rights of all people, regardless of gender, race or religion.

This was a dark day in America, to be sure. But it was also the day upon which Jon Ossoff, a Jewish American, and Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Black pastor, were elected to the United States Senate. Regardless of one’s political associations, this was a victory for diversity and for the changing face of America. In his victory speech, Rev. Warnock quoted from Psalm 30: “We may lie down weeping at nightfall, but joy comes in the morning.”

(Read the entire statement here.)

Congregation B’nai Amoona clergy

Each Shabbat, right before we return our Torah Scrolls to our Holy Ark, we recite a special Tfillah for our country. In this prayer, we entreat the Almighty to shower blessings upon “those who exercise just and rightful authority” and we fervently pray that the Holy One may continue to “safeguard the ideals and free institutions which are the pride and glory of our country.”

Without question, America has been a great source of blessing for the Jewish people. We have enjoyed greater freedoms here in the past century than in almost any other era of Jewish history. We remain confident that the United States of America will weather this current crisis and that the foundations of our democracy remain secure. However, we must not take our way of life for granted. Each of us, in our own way, must commit to taking responsibility for safeguarding what it is that we love. We must unequivocally condemn the anarchy and mayhem that we witnessed yesterday in our nation’s capital and actively promote an immediate resumption of the rule of law.

As always, we are here to be of support to you and your families as we face this most challenging period in the history of our country.

(Read the statement in its entirety here.)