What to build at Ground Zero? A new spirit

29 Elul 5770

American Muslims and their institutions must be respected as equals in law and in American life.  The reason for this is precisely that Islam can engender violent extremists as easily as it can gentle mystics — and much the same can be said of any religion or other human grouping.

My opposition to any form of bigotry is based on an approach of extending respect to everyone and expecting the same of them.  In religious terms, this means applying the same legal requirements and moral expectations to all religions, so that we can legitimately expect all religious believers to take responsibility for their religion’s teaching and behavior.  All religions are interpreted and lived by human beings, and all have been used to legitimize fear and arrogance.  To oppose this potential, religious believers need to encourage their communities to respect others, and need to be open to finding like-minded counterparts in other religions.

3000 lives were brutally taken on September 11, 2001.  The buildings that were destroyed with them were considered a symbol of world trade.  New York City at its best is a symbol of world friendship.

Finally, to any Muslims reading this post, I would say this: As your holy month gives way to mine, let us recall the rabbinic tradition surrounding the Days of Repentance that the repentance of one person can bring forgiveness to many.  Let this period of reflection give us the moral courage to encourage the people and communities we love to do better.  

I wish a happy new year to all.


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