News & Events

Respect is a Noun and A Verb

Memorial for victims at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, May 16, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Dear Tanenbaum Community,

In the wake of tragedies like Buffalo, what exhausts me most is how preventable a crime like this can be. I am tired of families having to rise the next morning without someone they loved, someone they depended on, just because they existed and were Black in America. I am tired of trying to justify someone’s right to believe, love, pray, to even shop for groceries safely. I am tired of the impacts of the dynamics of White Supremacy on Christianity. And I am tired that we as a society, are still in a place in our development, where our responses to tragedy are limited by our own levels of comfort.

Please remember that, the networking of these hate crimes is not random. The alleged assailant in Buffalo was born after 9/11, is a self-proclaimed anti-Semite and White Supremacist, who believed he had the right to take the lives of people he perceived to be a threat to him because of their race. The nature of this attack is not ancient history, rather a continuation of history. We continue to put real lives in jeopardy when we refuse to recognize and address the legacy and impacts of White Supremacy on the creation and sustaining of oppression. It is important for each of us daily, to be mindful of where we can continue to make an impact with the resources available to us.

At Tanenbaum, we build respect for difference, and respect for religious difference, but respect is both a noun and a verb. Respect is a state of being, and there are consistent actions needed to support that state of existence. Our work gives people the opportunity to both deeply reflect on the role religion and spirituality play in our lives and to take concrete actions that respect our beliefs and the rights and existence of others. I encourage everyone in this community to think about how each of our actions today and future actions can build this respectful world. Below is a list of Tanenbaum resources to help unpack the intersection of supremacist ideas on religion, and make everyone a little less comfortable.




  • Courageous Conversation – A discussion with former White Supremacist, Arno Michaelis and former Muslim Supremacist, Mubin Shaikh about explicit bias.
  • Confronting Hate – Examining Anti-Semitism Through Religious and Ideological World Views


  • Religion, Race & Health Reconciliation – As part of our Conscientious Care webinar series, this conversation will discuss the complex relationship that exists between racially minoritized communities and the U.S. health care system.
  • 3,000 Conversations for Building Respect – This series is an opportunity to share what you think about the progress we’re making as a society around building respect for difference, and religious difference in particular.

With renewed resolve,

Rev. Mark Fowler

P.S. Communal reflection can be a form of healing during times of trauma. If you would like to share about the impactful conversations you and others around you are having in the face of the Buffalo attack, please consider sharing as part of Tanenbaum’s 3,000 Conversations for Building Respect. We are listening.