LOWELL, August 14, 2017: Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley (TEMV), a Reform Jewish congregation with nearly 70 years serving the Lowell community, strongly condemns the recent White supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the prospect of a similar one in Boston.

“As Jews, we know what it is like to be targets of hate,” said Michelle Vlamis, TEMV president. “As members of the greater Boston community and as Americans, we stand in support of all who are at the receiving end of this latest wave of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.”

“This recent manifestation of hatred and violence goes against the freedoms and ideals most people in our country have long treasured,” said TEMV’s Rabbi Robin Sparr. “Even the concept of free speech does not extend to inciting violence against others or encouraging actions that make people feel unsafe. To see some Americans raising Nazi symbols is also to cheapen the sacrifice of so many Americans and others who gave their lives to stop the Nazi regime in the 1940s.”

TEMV, which began as a congregation shortly after World War II, has a long history of social justice. Rabbi Everett Gendler, who led the congregation from 1971 to 1995, also played a key role in involving Jewish leaders in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Rabbi Gendler marched alongside and was arrested with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1962. Although his colleague, Abraham Joshua Heschel, is the rabbi best known as a friend to Dr. King, it was Rabbi Gendler, once Heschel’s student, who urged Heschel to join the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Rabbi Gendler also chaired the 1968 national rabbinical convention at which Dr. King was an invited speaker. His legacy is now honored through the Gendler Grapevine Project, which offers support for initiatives within the Jewish community that promote environmental sustainability and social justice.

The TEMV synagogue also is home to the world’s first solar-powered eternal light (ner tamid), which Rabbi Gendler, known as “the father of Jewish environmentalism,” installed in 1978.

The community’s continued devotion to civil rights and social justice is evident in its present-day activities, which include regularly preparing and delivering food to people in need in Lowell; collecting food, toiletries, and clothing for local charitable organizations; working with Muslim, Christian, and other local faith communities; and taking a public stand in support of refugees and immigrants.

More About TEMV

Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley is a welcoming, independent-thinking, and unique Reform Jewish congregation serving Lowell and the surrounding towns.

TEMV welcomes all who wish to explore Jewish practice. Its membership includes both exclusively Jewish and interfaith families, families of multiple ethnicities and geographic backgrounds, and LGBTQ+ families and individuals. Visit the TEMV website, temv.org, to learn more.

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