Join the prophets in reweaving the social fabric
Soon we will all be remembering where we were on September 11, 2001. How did we hear about the terrorist-inspired tragedies that rocked the nation? I hope we also spend time thinking about what we have done in response, and reflecting on what we could have done better to be more effective in responding to the terrorist attacks.
I watched the events of September 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I was on my way to an interfaith meeting in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Interfaith Worker Justice, a faith-based group concerned with issues of economic justice.
My Muslim colleague from Minneapolis, Imam Makram El-Amin, leader of Masjid An-Nur in north Minneapolis, had flown out the night before. He watched the events unfold in one of the cities attacked with an interfaith group of leaders.
Like the biblical prophets, Rabbi Sim Glaser wanted to reweave the fabric that had been ripped asunder by the 9/11 attackers.
I literally was boarding a plane for D.C. when I was pulled off. At that point, there was only confusion about what had happened. Soon the confusion turned to concern, then fear, then anger.
I went through that same set of emotions. I was confused as to whether I should be trying to find another way to the conference. As a 10-year resident of Washington, D.C., I was concerned about friends. I became angry about the fallen.
A creative response to hate and violence
A good friend of mine, who shares a concern for working people and economic justice, had the most creative response to the tragedies of 9/11.
Sim Glaser, rabbi at Temple Israel in Minneapolis, was determined to provide an alternative to the type of violence displayed by the terrorists. Not wanting to respond in kind, Sim and his family decided to offer a meal to the members of Temple Israel. Guests could attend at no “cost,” at least in terms of money. He provided all the food and preparation. But there was a hitch.
Sim also invited about a half-dozen community organizations. Each could set up a display board, giving attendees an idea about the mission of the organization. And each must have sign-up sheets, because the catch was that attendees needed to agree to volunteer about 10 hours with some community organization.
Like the biblical prophets, Sim wanted to reweave the fabric that had been ripped asunder by the 9/11 attackers. To do that, he wanted to create or deepen relationships. He offered an antidote to violent terrorists. It’s a lesson from which we would all benefit.