Unity in an time of divisiveness was the theme of Sunday’s sixth annual March for Unity in Boulder.
The march is organized by the Lemon Tree Group, an interfaith group studying issues in the Middle East.
“We march as a pledge to stand up for one another, said organizer Tirzah Firestone, founding rabbi of Boulder’s Congregation Nevei Kodesh. “More than ever, we need to cross the lines of our community.”
The march started at the Second Baptist Church on Baseline Road with a performance by the church’s gospel choir followed by remarks by community and faith leaders, including U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse and Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
“We have to be non-stop in being unified because there are forces out there that really don’t want to see us together,” said Second Baptist Church Pastor James Ray. “We have to intensify our voice.”
Another speaker, Paola Sandoval, offered a blessing and told the crowd that Muslims aren’t any different than other people.
“We share our humanity,” she said. “We are truly intertwined.”
After hearing from the speakers, the participants walked down Baseline to Congregation Har HaShem holding signs with sentiments that included “God loves all, not just some” and “We walk for love.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided escorts.
As they walked, participants were encouraged to meet a stranger.
“I want people to overcome their discomfort of talking to people they don’t know,” said Reggie Gray, who started the Lemon Tree Group in 2009 and is a Congregation Nevei Kodesh member. “They can learn that, even with our differences, we have a lot in common.”
Rumana Hashmi, who is Muslim, and Naomi Rusk, who is Jewish, met during a listening circle about 10 years ago and walked in the march together.
“We support each other at different events,” Rusk said, noting those events included mourning previous attacks on both Jewish and Muslim worshippers. “We cried together. All our people are suffering just the same. We have to take care of each other.”
Aly Kohlmeyer, a member of Atonement Lutheran Church, brought her three boys to the march.
“What I particularly like is we’re encouraged to have conversations with people we don’t normally encounter,” she said. “I always learn something new.”