Buttons With a Positive Message

Cantor Debra Stein is among the members of East Hampton Clericus distributing buttons bearing the message “Love Thy Neighbor.” Durell Godfrey

In a climate marked by uncertainty, rumor, fear, and even paranoia among undocumented immigrants and their supporters, members of the East Hampton Clericus are taking a simple, old-fashioned approach to distributing a positive message.

“Love Thy Neighbor” is the message that a series of four buttons bears, each conveying the command, attributed to Jesus Christ in the Gospel According to Matthew, in at least two languages. Each includes a potent symbol, be it a Star of David, the star and crescent associated with Islam, or the outline of a man, woman, and child superimposed on a heart. Two include the message in English and Spanish, and the others add either Hebrew or a Hebrew transliteration.

The campaign, an advertisement for love and tolerance, came about when the Rev. Gerardo Romo-Garcia, who leads a Latino ministry at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton, saw the buttons online, according to Cantor Debra Stein of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. Together, they decided to order 500 of each of the four designs.

“It’s our way of trying to focus people on the important issues surrounding our undocumented neighbors,” Ms. Stein said yesterday, “and those being attacked in ways we didn’t think we would see — the rise of anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism. We’re trying to sensitize people.”

The clericus sent buttons to the Islamic Association of Long Island, located at the Selden Masjid, the first mosque in Suffolk County, “and we got a beautiful note from them,” Cantor Stein said, along with a pledge to distribute them.

Other members of the clericus have distributed the buttons, she said, and they will continue until they have no more.

Matthew Charron