Upon hearing of the break-in at Havurat Ee Shalom, the heart of Vashon and Maury Islands’ small Jewish community, the editor at the island’s local paper, The Beachcomber, decided to do something more than report on the incident.
If you travel the roads of the town of Vashon today, which serves as the center of the island’s community, you’ll see many of the storefronts and cars with Stars of David taped to their windows. In an editorial immediately following the vandalism, with a graphic of the Magen David printed on the same page, Beachcomber editor Leslie Brown wrote: “This act doesn’t hurt only Vashon’s Jewish community. It affects all of us who live here. It affects the fabric of our civic life. And how we respond says something about who we are as a community.”
The paper modeled its response after an attack in Billings, Mont., 15 years ago, when more than 6,000 households put pictures of menorahs in their front windows after a vandal threw a brick through a window of the home of a family that had been proudly displaying their burning Hanukkah candles.
“We at The Beachcomber are determined to play a similar role on Vashon, to do what we can to support our Jewish community and to encourage others to stand up in solidarity with our Jewish friends and neighbors,” noted the Beachcomber’s editorial.
It is a show of solidarity that could not have come from this or any other Jewish newspaper; the message would not have had the same meaning. It should mean a lot to all of us that a small community paper is willing to stand up with such courage (though we would hope the paper would do the same for any minority community that experienced a similar incident) — and that the community it represents is willing to stand up and show its support for its local Jewish population.
So for that, Vashon Beachcomber, we say thank you.