Last night TBH hosted a community forum about The People’s House, the new proposed homeless shelter for downtown Olympia. Here are my short welcoming remarks:
My name is Rabbi Seth Goldstein, and I would like to welcome you to Temple Beth Hatfiloh—welcome back to those who have been here in the past, and welcome to those who are here for the first time.
We are happy to host this forum tonight because it is very important to us at TBH that we be engaged in our Olympia community. The verse that adorns our ark is from the book of Isaiah, and it reads, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples.” We placed this verse here because it includes our name—house of prayer is beit tfilah, or Beth Hatfiloh. So a creative way to read this is, “Beth Hatfiloh shall be for all peoples.” We truly see this space as a community space, not just for our congregation and the Jewish community.
In a moment I will turn this over to Interfaith Works, the sponsors of this forum tonight. It is not my place to offer guidelines or rules for the forum tonight. But I will offer an intention. In any opportunity to engage in civic and civil dialogue, it is important that while good people may disagree, we should focus on those points that bind us together. I would suggest that there are things we all have in common:
We all care about our community of Olympia, and wish to see it thrive.
We are all concerned about the increased evidence of drug use in our town, the prevalence of cheap heroin, the plague of needles found everywhere.
We all care for the welfare of our children, and seniors and we all care about issues of safety for all.
We all want to be secure in our homes, in our workplaces, in our public spaces and on our streets.
We are all grateful for what we have, and wish to extend a hand to those who lack.
If we remember what we have in common, I trust we will have a constructive conversation. Thank you for being here, for your respect of this space, and for each other.