March 24, 2020 —

Message to Interfaith Communities in partnership with Standing Together Steering Committee of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) —

Co-authors, VCIC Standing Together Steering Committee and Rabbi Michael Knopf of Temple Beth-El in Richmond (board member of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy)

— These are turbulent and anxious times. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended so many of our lives. We have little clarity about the path ahead. And to make matters more challenging, we are also being asked to keep ourselves away from our normal support systems and communities. 

We implore our community to stand together in this moment of crisis by: 

Rejecting bigotry, practicing solidarity with targeted communities (in particular communities of Asian descent), and treating each other with compassion, empathy, respect, and trust. This virus is not of a people, a geography, race, ethnicity, age or social class. We are all in this together. 

Respecting the advice and guidance of our experts who are working endlessly to minimize the impacts of this crisis. Practice social distancing and follow regulations regarding public gatherings. Stay at home unless absolutely necessary. 

Being creative in our ways of building community, providing support, and, if relevant, practicing our faith. 

Supporting those who are most vulnerable, not only to illness, but also to economic displacement. Refrain from hoarding goods and supplies also needed by others in the community, give as generously as possible to local relief efforts and emergency funds, seek out ways to safely volunteer your time and talent, advocate on behalf of those whose lives and livelihoods have been upended by this crisis. 

Offering words of encouragement and hope. Call or write to those who may be isolated or suffering. Share messages of gratitude, joy, and kindness on social media. Be gentle with one another. 

This challenge confronts all of us. By standing together, we will not only overcome it, we will come out the better for it.