San Francisco rabbis gather against bigotry after far-right rallies canceled


(JTA) — Rabbis from the San Francisco Bay area joined other faith leaders in gatherings against bigotry and racism a day after a two planned far-right rallies were canceled.

A planned Patriot Prayer gathering at San Francisco’s Crissy Field and a “No to Marxism” rally in nearby Berkeley were canceled by their organizers late Friday afternoon, but the Jewish community’s determination to come together in the face of divisive and hate-based ideologies also swelled attendance at many Shabbat services in the evening, J. The Jewish News of Northern California reported.

On Friday afternoon, the shofar was sounded on the steps of San Francisco City Hall when Sherith Israel Rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf gave an invocation at the United Against Hate rally attended by civic and faith leaders, including Rabbi Noa Kushner of The Kitchen and Rabbi Jonathan Singer of Congregation Emanu-El, J. reported.

More than 1,000 people filled nearly every seat at Congregation Emanu-El, with people from other synagogues and faith communities joining the Interfaith Gathering Against Hate on Friday evening. About 200 attended a similar event at Sherith Israel a half-mile away. Across the Golden Gate Bridge, 350 people gathered at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon for an interfaith prayer service, co-sponsored by the Marin Interfaith Council. Many other congregations around the Bay, from Sonoma to Oakland to San Mateo, also met to raise their voices against the planned rallies and everything they represented, according to the report.

The Oregon-based pro-Trump group Patriot Prayer canceled its “Freedom Rally” for Saturday at Chrissy Field,  a recreational area near the Golden Gate Bridge, announcing instead a news conference which was later cancelled because the group lacked a permit for the venue, the Alamo Square Park, which the city also blocked.

Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson said he cancelled the rally so that no innocent people would get hurt, but he blamed the left wing for the cancellation and accused counterdemonstrators of dogging the group all day so that they could not meet anywhere in or around the city. Gibson appeared late Saturday afternoon at Chrissy Field where he greeted supporters who arrived there and spoke to reporters.

Hundreds of counterprotesters began marching Saturday morning in Alamo Square Park, continuing until the afternoon, according to reports.

While Patriot Prayer has been described by the Anti-Defamation League as “alt-lite” and not “alt-right,” its rallies have attracted white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

An anti-Marxism rally scheduled for Sunday at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley also was canceled after the event was not granted a permit.

Recommended from JTA