Committed to Our Community

 

Dear JCA Community,

This week there was a controversy related to the removal of a Star of David initially included in the holiday light display in Westbrook. The JCA was not consulted regarding the issue, but when I spoke with the Mayor earlier this week, he indicated to me that the city had determined that this year’s display would for the first time include a dreidel. Instead, he said, a Star of David was put up accidentally. When he learned that was the case, he had it removed based not on one anonymous community complaint, but on legal advice provided to the town.

I was VERY surprised subsequently to see allegations that statements and demands related to the Star of David had come from the New England Arab American Organization. The JCA and several other Jewish institutions locally have worked closely with NEAAO for many years. They have issued a statement today clarifying that they never asked for or demanded that the Star of David be removed.

Reasonable people can and do disagree about whether or how religious symbols should appear on government property, based on complex and sometimes conflicting federal law.

The Star of David is a beautiful and resonant symbol of Judaism. It transcends political differences or positions and is and should be displayed with pride by Jews of every background in every part of the world.

In the future, if a legitimate controversy between the Arab/Muslim and Jewish communities in Southern Maine arose, we would work together with NEAAO and other partners to provide cross-cultural and interfaith education, and to demand that our political leaders demonstrate inclusivity and reflect the diversity of our community.

We remain committed to building coalitions here in Maine that focus on ensuring our community’s safety, security, and ability to live our lives with pride. We wish the same for our Arab and Muslim neighbors and friends.

Shabbat Shalom,

Molly Curren Rowles
JCA Executive Director

 

To read an official statement from the New England Arab American Organization, NEAAO.pdf.

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