August 3, 2018


Let’s counter hate crimes with increase of love and respect

Why is there still hate in our society? Will it ever end? And will we ever truly be brothers and sisters who don’t let our differences raise walls of ignorance and sow seeds of hate, but build bridges of love, respect and understanding?

We believe it is fair to ask these important questions as we process a blatant act of anti-Semitism that took place in central Indiana over the weekend of July 28-29.

Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, a synagogue in Carmel, was vandalized on July 27 or July 28 as spray-painted images of a large Nazi flag and Nazi iron crosses were found on two walls of a brick shed that surround the property’s garbage bin.

As this newspaper went to press, investigators were still looking for the individual or individuals who committed this heinous crime. We hope and pray they are found and brought to justice.

To say this act was despicable only begins to express how evil and wrong some people’s misguided intentions are in today’s already fractured world.

It is sad to admit that anti-Semitism—belief or behavior meant to threaten, isolate, oppress or injure Jews or the Jewish community—still exists, including in our backyard. And recent data indicates it is increasing at an alarming rate.

According to statistics provided by the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) in Indianapolis,, (a diverse faith community that pursues peace through interfaith understanding and cooperation), the FBI reports that Jews are the number one victims of religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has documented an increase of 57 percent in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. from 2016 to 2017, including harassment, vandalism and assault. Even more troubling, anti-Semitic incidents were up 113 percent in the Midwest in 2017 compared to 2016.

We should not be surprised that our Jewish brothers and sisters in central Indiana acknowledge that members of their community are on edge. They are also justifiably angry about this most recent crime. We should be, too.

Debby Barton Grant, CEO and executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, shared photos of the vandalism on Facebook, writing that she is “disgusted and furious” about the incident.

“There can be no equivocation when it comes to rejecting Nazism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism,” Barton continued, quoting a past Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council statement on white supremacy. “Such bigotry in all its forms is antithetical to the principles of freedom and equality that form the cornerstone of American democracy and our pluralistic society.”

Members of the CIC, including Father Rick Ginther, director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis, condemned this crime and said, “We stand together, both to support the targeted religious community and to raise the alarm about the spread of hatred in our society today. We collectively commit to courageously fight bigotry and discrimination.”

CIC went on to say: “This is a call to action for all of us, particularly parents and grandparents, to openly discuss the current rise of religious and ethnic hatred in our world. We must challenge ourselves to stand up and speak out anytime hatred or bigotry is in our midst. We call on everyone to take the time to get to know their neighbors before the next expression of hatred and cruelty.”

We wholeheartedly agree with CIC members: It is time to say enough is enough. We must put an end to ignorance and prejudice, and make the time to get to know our brothers and sisters—Jews and Muslims and people of all faith traditions. We must not let misinformation or a lack of understanding harden our hearts.

CIC is encouraging people to attend one or more interfaith gatherings in the coming weeks. They include:

  • Catholic scholar and Indianapolis native Jordan Denari Duffner, who will be talking about her new book Finding Jesus Among Muslims, at 6 p.m. on Aug. 7 at the Indiana Interfaith Center, 1100 W. 42nd St., # 110, in Indianapolis. She will also speak at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, 5692 Central Ave., in Indianapolis, at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 8, on the topic of “Islam and Interreligious Dialogue: How Our Catholic Faith Calls us to Dialogue and Action.”
  • Rabbi Brett Krichiver, senior rabbi at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, who will be speaking at The Dwelling Place Church, 8119 E. Washington St., in Indianapolis, at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 9 to share his perspective on living in a truly pluralistic society. For more information, go to
  • The annual Festival of Faiths from 1-5 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the Veteran’s Memorial Plaza in downtown Indianapolis.

Members of the CIC also offered poignant words of wisdom that all people—no matter their faith tradition—should take to heart: “Levels of hate speech are rising. Let’s make sure the growth of our expressions of love, our acts of compassion and our willingness to learn from one another rise even more.”

—Mike Krokos

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