Following vandalism at Temple Israel in Alameda, the wider community joined synagaogue members for a vigil of support on August 18.
One of the members, Amy Seefeldt, wrote:
I wanted to take a minute as a member of Temple Israel and of the Alameda Community to thank everyone who came and showed support at Friday night’s vigil. I can’t say enough about how proud I was of the way that our community and surrounding communities handled the vandalism incident at our synagogue. They approached it with love, respect and grace. People from all around the East Bay, no matter what religion or belief they identified with, gathered in front of our temple. Many of them even came into our synagogue afterwards to unite in prayer.
This year, Temple Israel has endured challenges and changes that have shaped us as a congregation. Whether some of those changes have been for better or worse, we are always resilient. Temple Israel is a small congregation of 100 members that year after year has endeavored to remain a center for Jewish life in Alameda. This isn’t easy on our little island where neighboring cities like Oakland and Berkeley have a greater concentration of Jewish people and significantly larger synagogues. But Temple Israel, which was founded in 1924, is rooted in Alamedan history. Today it serves a group of smart, dedicated, passionate and tenacious people that have put their hearts into sustaining our little synagogue, despite the financial struggles inherent to a small congregation. Our smallness, though, is also also a benefit, bringing a closer sense of community.
This attack came during a time of evolution for Temple Israel. We have been busy shaping our goals, defining our identity and finding our direction. We have been planning new programming for Alameda families, preparing for exciting building renovations and even getting ready for a new rabbi. Basically, we’re trying to better ourselves so that we can reach out more to our community. This past Friday night was both a curse and a blessing; the act of vandalism was tragic, but the subsequent love shown by our community was extraordinary. After attending Friday’s vigil, a friend of mine, Fred Fielding, who is Board President of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio said, “For every one person who wants to hurt people there are hundreds who want to heal.” This past Friday night was a beautiful display of this conviction. Temple Israel, the local Jewish community and Alameda all have the strength to heal.