By Gary Nelson

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CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – A children’s choir sang “Let There Be Peace On Earch,” the classic hymn of tolerance and unity in Coral Springs Monday as clerics wearing collars, yarmulkes, and Muslim headdresses unified in a voice against hate.

“We are coming together to say that the people of our community of every background and every stripe are important,” said Rev. Randal Cutter of the New Dawn Community Church.

The call for unity comes just days after hateful words cost state Rep. Frank Artiles of Miami-Dade his career.

The gathering of the Clergy Coalition of Coral Springs And Parkland was scheduled far in advance, and coincidentally fell on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The Holocaust happened not just because of people who hate or traffic in hate, but also people who were indifferent, who were apathetic,” said Rabbi Brad Boxman of Congregation Kol Tikvah.

The call for getting involved against hate comes as the Anti-Defamation League issued a report saying that in 2016 there were 137 confirmed anti-semitic incidents alone in Florida, an increase of 50 percent over the year before.

With a spate of bomb threats to Jewish schools in Broward and Miami-Dade, desecrations and other acts, the ADL says 2017 is seeing a spike.

“An offense against any house of worship in this area is not just against that community, but against all of us,” said Msgr. Michael Souckart of Saint Andrew Church, where the gathering was held.

Some worry about what they see as President Trump setting an unsavory example.

“President Trump, if he brings unity and keeps all the differences on the side, that would be best for our nation,” said Imam Hafiz Furkhan of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida.

Among political and civic leaders in attendance, Congressman Ted Deutch(D) FL District 22, was among those cautioning the president to choose his words more carefully, or risk fomenting divisiveness.

“The president should understand that Muslim bans and attacks on immigrants only divide us, they don’t bring us together,” Deutch said.

The Clergy Coalition meets monthly to develop programs to combat hate and intolerance, and to formulate “rapid response” plans when hate incidents occur.


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