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Mass. Council of Churches condemns Anti-Semitic attacks in Monsey, N.Y., elsewhere

David Neumann wipes his eyes as he speaks to reporters in New City, N.Y., Thursday, about his father, Josef Neumann, who has been unconsciousness since the attack on the Hanukkah celebration in Monsey, N.Y.Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The Massachusetts Council of Churches on New Year’s Eve published an open letter to the Jewish and Christian faith communities strongly condemning the recent anti-Semitic attacks in Monsey, N.Y. — where five people were stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration — and elsewhere.

The letter, addressed to “our Jewish siblings and neighbors, and to our fellow Christians,” appeared on the council’s website.

“As Christian faith leaders, we reach out to share our sense of horror and disgust at the terrifying rise in violence against Jews and increasing public expressions of antisemitism,” the letter said. “Our hearts, prayers, and tears join yours as we bear witness to tragic events in Monsey, New York, here in Massachusetts, and elsewhere. As Christians whose tradition has been and continues to be the source of so much antisemitic terror in history, we carry a particular responsibility to identify, condemn, and resist antisemitism in any and every form.”

In the Monsey attack, a knife-wielding man stormed into a rabbi’s home and stabbed five people on Saturday night as they celebrated Hanukkah, an ambush that New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said was an act of domestic terrorism fueled by intolerance and a “cancer” of growing hatred in America.


In Tuesday’s letter, the council of churches said that when “we encounter [anti-Semitism] in our own sacred texts and liturgy, it’s on us to call it out. When we teach Christian history, it’s on us to name our forebears’ complicity and to call them out. When we see it in the media or in everyday interactions with our peers, it’s on us to speak up, push back, and demand awareness of the harm that even unintended or casual slights may cause. And when we see antisemitism borne out in acts of aggression on the streets or subways or in vicious and deadly violence in Jewish homes or synagogues, it’s on us to go public, to cry out in the strongest possible terms that such actions are anathema to our most deeply held values of respect for human dignity and love for our neighbors… and that they are anathema to the God we worship.”


The letter was signed by Rev. Laura Everett of the council; Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond and Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston; Rev. J. Bryan Hehir of the Archdiocese of Boston; Rev. Roberto Miranda of Congregación León de Judá in Boston; Rev. Daniel Smith of First Church in Cambridge; Rev. Burns Stanfield of Fourth Presbyterian Church of Boston and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization; Rev. Dr. Nancy S. Taylor of Old South Church in Boston; Rev. Liz Walker of Roxbury Presbyterian Church; Rev. Steve Watson of Reservoir Church in Cambridge; and Rev. David Wright, Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at