TARRYTOWN, NY — Outside Temple Beth Abraham, the Rev. Susan Copley unfurled a banner decorated with a picture of the Holy Family and the words “Immigrants & Refugees Welcome.”
The occasion was the start of a candlelight march on the evening of Monday, Aug. 28, in response to recent bias incidents, locally and nationally. Copley and Rabbi David Holtz of Temple Beth Abraham led the mile-long procession, which attracted hundreds of Christians and Jews.
Copley planned to hang the banner on the wrought iron fence outside her church, Christ Episcopal. Two rainbow banners, which symbolize LGBT pride, had been stolen from that fence since the start of the summer. The thefts prompted the church to post a sign behind the current rainbow banner. The sign reads:
Rainbow banner thieves
God loves you madly!
1 John 4:7
“This is about fear,” Holtz said, referring to the perpetrators of bias incidents. “People are afraid of people who aren’t like them.”
“There’s gotta be voices stronger than the voices of hate and fear,” Copley added, “and so we come out… I think if we’re silent, it appears that we don’t care, even if we do.”
The idea for the march was conceived by Kimberly Marcus and Anita Marshall, who belong to Temple Beth Abraham. Earlier this year, after a rash of bias incidents, including a bomb threat to a Jewish Community Center in Tarrytown, the temple hosted an Interfaith Passover Seder that parishioners of four Tarrytown churches attended. The purpose of the Seder was “to build relationships, for good times and bad,” Holtz said at that event.
The march ended at Patriots Park, where Copley and Holtz stood on a small stage that musicians use during the weekly farmers’ market. The marchers gathered around them, some holding candles and others holding smartphones equipped with candle apps.
There was singing and there were speeches. Holtz praised the crowd for coming together “united by the idea that hate will not be accepted, that we will not be afraid, that we will defend one another, and that we will stand up for each other.” Both he and Copley also challenged those before them.
“We can’t just overcome evil with love,” Copley said. “We overcome evil with acts of kindness.”
Tim Lamorte is an award-winning journalist who has spent almost two decades documenting life along the Hudson River.