Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, saw an outpouring of support for the Acton-Boxborough Jewish community. Secular and Jewish community members came together with local officials, like Massachusetts State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, who emceed the event, and Massachusetts State Reps. Simon Cataldo and Dan Sena, along with Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, New England regional director of the ADL, amidst the tragedies of the war in Israel for the New England Walk Against Hate.  

A national event sponsored by the ADL and organized by Congregation Beth Elohim’s Kulanu team, this walk and rally was a chance for the community to join as one and stand up to the antisemitism and hate students have been facing this past year. Rabbi Braham David of Congregation Beth Elohim wanted to make sure they were top of mind and cared for during these difficult times. “It was very clearly obvious that the event in Israel was foremost on people’s minds, but our focus was against the hate that’s been expressed toward our students in the schools.” 

Participants ranged from congregants to those who simply care about protecting their community’s future, like some of the 40 co-sponsors: Church of the Good Shepherd; Fostering Racial Justice Group; Greater Boston PFLAG; League of Women Voters; and Discovery Museum, just to name a few. David said, “We were overwhelmed with the response. We think there were 500 or 600 people who showed up—they filled up the Acton-Boxborough gym… We were so pleased that in this very, very difficult time, especially in the Jewish community, people showed up and weren’t afraid to come out and march against hate.”  

While the community is deeply affected by what’s happened in their schools and people are still reeling from the terrorist attack that took place on Oct. 7, spirits were lifted by this astounding allyship. David said, “We’re still getting responses from people. I think there was a sense that in a time when people felt powerless, they were able to do something—they were able to come together. A lot of the hate speech and the graffiti that’s happened in the past has been under the radar, and here, we’re able to do something—speak out to say, ‘Hate has no place in our community,’ and I think it was empowering for people.”  

Ultimately, David was hopeful for change and knew that he and the community “really need to pay attention to this hateful behavior and to educate our children that it’s not OK. We have to speak out publicly about it and not stay silent.” And so they will continue to do just that.