Dear Temple B'nai Chaim Family,

Yesterday evening, I learned that swastikas had been found in Ridgefield's Ballard Park.  A photo of the symbols was posted online and appears to show three swastikas carved into a wooden fence.

As I am sure that you know, my first concern is always for the safety of our community.  I immediately reached out to the Ridgefield Police Department and was able to speak with an officer who is investigating this incident.  He assured me that the police department is taking this very seriously and told me that he does not believe that this incident represents any kind of danger to our congregation.  

Over the last several hours, I have also spoken with Ridgefield's First Selectman Rudy Marconi.  As I have shared with you before, I have been working with Mr. Marconi, my colleague, Rabbi David Reiner, and the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League for more than a year to strengthen our community and to combat incidents like this one.  One of the very tangible results of our work was a program in December where leaders from a large variety of town departments received anti-bias training from ADL instructors.

This latest incident comes despite all of our efforts, despite the heightened vigilance of the police department, and despite the educational programs that the ADL has provided to Ridgefield's public schools.  It is disturbing and disappointing to see that this symbol has once again been used to tarnish our public spaces. 

A year ago, we were faced with the discovery of a swastika in Ridgefield High School.  The sermon I delivered on the following Friday spoke about the need for our communities to embrace both empathy and accountability.  I went back to those words today as I worked on this message, and while I can say without hesitation that we have done a lot of good work since March 2017, I know that there will always be more that needs to be done.

I remain committed to that work, and I know that my colleagues and our partners within Ridgefield's government feel the same way.

In closing, I offer you an excerpt from the sermon I wrote and delivered last year.
 
Having standards does not mean that we are not compassionate.  
Tonight, we remember that our tradition was built on both the 
expectation of righteous behavior and the knowledge 
that we will sometimes fall short.  
Let us carry that tension with us as we go out into our communities.  
Embracing that tension will give us strength.

Chazak.  Chazak.  V'nitchazek.
Be strong.  Be strong.  Let us strengthen one another.

Rabbi Rachel Bearman