This month’s observance and celebration of both the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter was forever marred in Mason District and Fairfax County by derogatory, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian language and symbols spray-painted on signs and exterior surfaces of both the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV) and the Little River United Church of Christ. Such scurrilous and hateful activity is unacceptable in our community at any time, regardless of season or location.
Paint can be power-washed from brick, and banners replaced, but the memory does not get washed away. Despite so many efforts across civilization, hate never dies but, fortunately, goodness never dies either. And it was the goodness of the community that came together to support both institutions, and each other, at a Saturday evening vigil at Little River United Church of Christ, just hours before Easter sunrise services were scheduled at many local churches.
Sadly, the faith community in Fairfax County has experienced these incidents before, and each time one hopes that, this time, it will be the last. Whether anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, Islamophobic, or skewed against any of the dozens of other faiths represented in our community, it is, in the words of Ron Halber, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, “part of the same toxic brew of bigotry that threatens to undermine our democracy and our diverse and welcoming communities. This type of behavior cannot be tolerated.” And it is up to everyone in the community to stand up and agree with Mr. Halber – this type of behavior cannot, and must not, be tolerated.
In early March, dozens of clergy members, elected officials, and law enforcement personnel gathered at the JCCNV in response to a bomb threat at the Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, and a similar threat against an Islamic school in the region. The press event was an expression of support and solidarity, both for the Jewish community and in opposition to hatred expressed toward any faith or minority community. On Sunday evening, the JCCNV will host its annual Holocaust Commemoration, which will focus this year on “Displaced Persons: Struggles to Find a Home.” Fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors are still around, but their decades-long mantra – Never Again – is one that we all can take up as our own. Hate should never win; let goodness, respect, and understanding prevail.
Fairfax County mourns the loss of former Providence District Supervisor and Virginia Delegate Jim Scott, who died last week of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Jim was a longtime public servant, whose thoughtful and progressive approach to local and human services issues was legendary. He was the creative force for affordable housing and health care legislation, and championed establishment of the School Age Child Care after school programs in Fairfax County. Just a week prior to his death, Jim’s wife, Nancy, testified at the board’s budget hearing about the need for additional support for Insight Memory Care, which provides services for Alzheimer’s victims and their families. Among Jim’s many legacies, putting a public face on the ravages of the disease may be his most important.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]