After last month’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 dead, the group Interfaith Leaders of Greater Lafayette, or ILGL, decided its next general meeting would be a call to action. At West Lafayette’s Temple Israel Thursday, Rabbi Mike Harvey talks about the importance of combatting the rise of intolerance, racism, and anti-Semitism—and the challenges to creating real change.
“Good morning, and first and foremost, welcome to Temple Israel,” Harvey says to the larger than usual crowd. The current director of ILGL, Harvey says he didn’t want to organize a rally or response with a singular focus on Pittsburgh, so he waited for a regularly-scheduled interfaith meeting to broaden the discussion.
“We have been very good at reactionary events,” Harvey says. “Events that are in reaction to something. The truth of that is after that occurs, we no longer see each other again. We go back to our silos.”
The gathering discussed opening the lines of communication so resources and support could be shared among local groups trying to expand their programming and volunteer bases. Harvey also says smaller actions build a sense of community over time, like interfaith dinners that create familiarity among different congregations.
He also acknowledges the challenges of reaching people not in the room.
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis says organizations like ILGL can’t be, as he puts it, “shy” about using their authority and influence, and action must follow meetings.
“We feel better, but what’s going to happen to the population that we serve?” Dennis says.
Harvey says he wants to meet again in a few months to see what ILGL and other groups have accomplished.
“To see who are we reaching, and who we’re not reaching,” Harvey says. “This is sort of uncharted territory.”
The gathering also included representatives from non-religious groups such as Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America and Food Finders Food Bank.