Reflections from our CEO the day after Colleyville

January 16, 2022

By Idit Klein, Keshet CEO

A day of terror followed by intense relief – that was how so many of us felt yesterday.

I learned about the people taken hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas when a friend from graduate school texted me: “The synagogue in Colleyville: that’s Charlie and Adena’s shul.” Adena Cytron-Walker and I were part of a tightly knit cohort of 12 others studying Social Justice Education at UMass Amherst in the late 90s; her husband, Charlie, became an honorary member of our crew. 

Antisemitic events always shake me to the core, but Colleyville hit home in a different way — not only as a Jewish leader but also as a friend. I was not at all surprised to read about Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker’s extraordinary calm and courage throughout the 10-hour hostage ordeal. That is the Charlie I know. In his mid-20s, he demonstrated the same commitment to multi-faith, multi-racial, multi-ethnic engagement that remains at the heart of his rabbinate in Colleyville. 

In the coming days, Jewish leaders will no doubt feel competing impulses on how the Jewish community should move forward. Here is what is clear to me:

  • We must take care of one another, in particular our rabbis, cantors, and other spiritual leaders who assume responsibility for our safety. Let us hold them in the immense task of nourishing and safeguarding our communities.
  • We must devote critical and thoughtful attention to the ongoing threat of antisemitism. I am grateful for the outpouring of support and concern from Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and other faith leaders. We must continue to stand together and build strong relationships across all religious and cultural communities.
  • We must not give in to despair. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker modeled that resolve yesterday and awed us all with his presence during the agonizing hours when he was held hostage. As Jews and as LGBTQ people, we know how to find reservoirs of hope, courage, and resilience. Each of us has this capacity even in our darkest moments.

As we approach Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tomorrow, I am acutely aware both of our vulnerability and the need, more than ever, for us to live out his legacy. Dr. King said: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it be the will of the Source of Life.

L’Shalom,

Idit Klein
President & CEO

Keshet

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