Here are the words Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein offered on Wednesday at the prayer vigil at Durham Memorial AME Zion in downtown Buffalo.
“Thank you to Cantor Penny Suzanne Myers and Lana Benatovich who stood with me on the podium and offered songs and words as well.
We are here today at the edge of dusk. In just a few hours, darkness will descend making it appear as if all is lost. But it is not so. Like the pathway the moon will take in a few days, blocking the sun’s rays for the few hours it persists, there is an unnatural shadow cast across our nation.
There is no need to fear the dark. We have lived in the dark before and we have survived. As my people say every year at the Passover table, “in every generation, they rise up to destroy us, and the Holy One of Blessing, rescues us from their hands.”
But it is not just God’s blessing that gives me hope, as Hannah Senesh voiced when the Nazi insignia that waved across the streets of Charlottesville and that was scrawled on a slide at my children’s playground at Windermere Boulevard School earlier in the week, threatened to overtake all that was good in the world, “there are people whose brilliance continues to light the world.”
To our forbearers, leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who proclaimed in 1957, when the voices of evil in this country seemed to be the strongest, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Or as Mahatma Gandhi once said a decade or so before, “In the midst of darkness, light persists.”
So, even in this time of impending doom, let us seek out the light, the light from God, the light from one another, and the light from all that is good and pure in the world. In doing so, nothing will bring us harm, not a car intent on murder plowing into a crowd of innocent protesters, not a thousand Neo Nazi-Klu Klux Klan rallies, and certainly, not a presidential tweet. Let light drive away this period of darkness, and let love conquer hate.”