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After a bomb threat at a Northampton synagogue, community members create uplifting art installation

A synagogue that shares its space with the BOMBYX Center for Arts & Equity in Northampton received a bomb threat in November. In response, Pastor Marisa Egerstrom, of the Florence Congregational Church, and local artists surprised congregants this week with an uplifting art installation.

“We have a unique set of relationships here at Bombyx, and we wanted to respond in a way that reflects the spirit of community building and artistic collaboration that happens here every day,” Egerstrom said. “I told our congregation that our Christmas decorations were going to look a little different this year, and I saw everyone nod and wipe their eyes.”

Rabbi Riqi Kosovske, of Beit Ahava, said she was surprised with this art installation of at least 100 colorful ribbons strung up on wires criss-crossed on the ceiling of the sanctuary space where they hold prayer and meetings.

"All the constituents who use the Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity wrote on ribbons just messages from the heart to the community, to the Jewish community, to Beit Ahava, but also to all of us,” Kosovske said. “Messages of peace and love and healing and support and comfort."

Kosovske said especially in this time of tragedy — with the Israel-Hamas war — it inspired her to see messages of hope from the community.

She said anti-Semitism and islamophobia are rising and hopes these displays of kindness can remind everyone that support from neighbors can bring peace and love during hardship.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.
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