Since the beginning of this year, there has been a disturbing rise in the number of anti-Semitic threats and incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism across the country. Tombstones have been overturned in Jewish cemeteries and anti-Semitic graffiti has defaced the walls of schools and community centers. Across the nation, Jewish Community Centers have been subjected to, at last count, 80 threats of bombing and intimidation.
While many of these incidents have occurred in other parts of the country, this ugly hatred and bigotry has cropped up in our own community. Monday, a community center in Mercer Island received a bomb threat and a playground in Ballard was discovered to have been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. And with the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents across the country, Jewish communities throughout western Washington are justifiably anxious.
In my time here I have always felt great respect and collaboration from our Jewish community. They are integral champions to the faith community here in Western Washington and in our country. Just yesterday, a Jewish man from Michigan sent our Refugee Office, in this diocese, a donation to help in the work of settling refugees and thanked us for being part of the lawsuit against the immigration ban. That is one simple act, but an example of what is very common in the shared work of our faith communities.
Vandalism and violence only begets vandalism and violence. Unless we stop it. As we Christians enter into our Lenten observance on this Ash Wednesday, I ask the people of the Diocese of Olympia to stand with me in condemning these acts of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance. I ask you to join me in supporting our Jewish neighbors during this time of uncertainty. Reach out to your local synagogues and community centers to find ways you can help. And please join me in praying for the peace and safety of our Jewish sisters and brothers.