When the news of the attack at the United States Holocaust Museum broke, I was taken back to when I received local threats from the same group to which the accused museum shooter, James vonBrunn, has ties.
The old incident has faded, but this week we are again reminded that domestic terrorist groups and individuals still use violence against minorities in this country. This is not news to those who, in quieter ways, are daily subjected to discrimination, aggression and oppression, whose stories are not told.
My prayers go to the slain security guard, Stephen Johns, his family, to museum staff and visitors -- especially children -- harmed by this act of violence. I pray for Mr. vonBrunn. A long life built of bitterness deserves compassion.
The Holocaust Museum isn't only a place of Jewish commemoration. Curators created an educational memorial to all victim groups of Nazi terror: Jews, Poles, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, gypsies and others. The museum goes to lengths to honor people of all backgrounds who bravely resisted, and those who sacrificed their lives for people of other races, whom they did not know.
The meaning of this museum attack is not only the presence of anti-Semitism and racism in modern America, though this is not an unimportant lesson. The broader implication of attacking that place of memory and learning is that racism is threatened by the values the museum represents: memory, education, truth and courage.
VonBrunn's life, and the life of the groups whose values he represents, are devoted entirely to an opposite set of values: hatred, irrational blame, lack of personal responsibility and falsehood.
This incident calls us once again to confront racism in our society and community, but also to rededicate ourselves to the values that are hatred's antidote: love, compassion, education and celebrating diversity.
Rabbi Chava Bahle is the director of the Or Tzafon Retreat Community in Leelanau County and teaches courses in spiritual diversity across the country.