Beth Israel: A Jewish Synagogue on My Mind

Beth Israel

(Beth Israel Synagogue)

Beth Israel, Jackson’s first Jewish synagogue was vandalized last night. My heart dropped as I watched the news report. I have reached a point of frustration when it comes to the hate-related and ignorant actions of others. What makes the situation worse is that the synagogue has a campaign for kindness going on. The campaign is designed to acknowledge various acts of kindness and seeks to inspire kindness in others.

As an undergrad at Tougaloo College, my philosophy professor took us to this synagogue. During a unit on comparative religions, he offered students extra points if we attended and wrote an essay about our experience. I have to admit, I was nervous as I entered the synagogue. I didn’t know what to expect. I was definitely more concerned about the attention I might draw to myself by being unaware of the protocols and recitations than being a young black girl who obviously was not Jewish.

I am grateful for that experience. It has allowed me to find many parallels between those services and the services at my childhood Baptist church. Walls of hate are often built with mortar that seems to be stronger than love. But, the more we are exposed to different cultures and people, the more we can weaken these walls. There is nothing wrong with experiencing something different. You don’t have to love it…you don’t have to agree with you. You simply have to make the conscious decision to open your mind and be willing to try.

Click to learn more about Beth Israel.

Click here to read about it in the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities.

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