Passover began on Monday, April 14 and ends on Tuesday, April 22, and is being celebrated here in Missoula in the Har Shalom Jewish community.

After the murder of three people at two Jewish centers in Kansas City this week by a man tied to the white supremacist movement, Spiritual Leader and Rabbinic Intern at Har Shalom in Missoula, Laurie Franklin, said the Jewish community has been welcomed in western Montana.

"We've found a very open community here in Missoula, where people are very accepting and interested in who we are," Franklin said. "We've received no threats that I know of. As far as the local police know, there are no current threats, so we've found ourselves to be very well accepted here in Missoula."

Franklin said the Passover celebration is an important time to members of the Har Shalom community.

"Passover is when we celebrate the biblical account of the coming out from slavery in Egypt," Franklin said. "That's what makes this event in Kansas City so sad, because one of the things we also celebrate is this metaphorical freedom from whatever we're enslaved to, so it's very sad that our world contains people who hate others just because they are what they are. I think that if we could look into each other's eyes and see the image of God that the Bible says we reflect, we would have an awfully hard time hurting each other."

Franklin said Passover should be a time of freedom from hate.

"In this season of celebrating Passover, I would wish that we could be free from the narrowness that creates hate."

Authorities in Kansas City plan to charge the suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, with a hate crime, in addition to three counts of murder. Ironically, the three people killed in the Jewish centers in Kansas City were Christians.

Spiritual Leader and Rabbinic Intern at Har Shalom, Laurie Franklin


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