The brutal murder of George Floyd has caused all of us to once again focus on the systemic and foundational racism on which our country is founded. As events of this past week continue to unfold, many of us watch in anger, sadness, and disbelief. The images of violence on the part of both police and looters are frightening. Although many protests are non-violent and there are acts of solidarity, such as an outstretched hand or the “taking of a knee,” it is the overwhelming number of painful and disturbing images that keep us glued to our screens and remain with us even when we are able to pull ourselves away.
We try to remind ourselves that our nation was founded on the principles of life, liberty and justice for all. Yet, we saw that the toll the Covid virus took on communities of color was disproportionately high.
We must face the systemic racism and bias that plagues our nation. We must address inequality and discrimination through education and discussion that leads us to action. We must elect leaders with understanding and credibility who will demand accountability and enact laws that will bring about institutional change.
Torah teaches that every human life is of equal value and deserving of dignity, that the pursuit of justice is our responsibility and that there is complicity in silence. We must speak out against white supremacy and in support of those working to dismantle structural racism. Jewish teachings on righteousness requires us to see both the virtue in non-violent protest for a worthwhile cause, as well as the need to bring to justice those intent on violence and destruction of property.
We must pray for the courage to face our pain and pray for the strength to address racism at its source. Each of us must begin by educating ourselves. Resources to do so are provided below.
May we have the fortitude to engage in the tough, but necessary conversations with our children, our parents, our friends and our elected officials. May we listen and learn from those those who are oppressed and discriminated against. May we have hope for a brighter future, and understand that we must reach out to embrace diversity and be advocates in order to make our world a better place.
May we soon see peace on our streets, but not lose sight of the need to find shalom for each and every one in our nation.
With hope for a better tomorrow,
For information on taking action to combat systemic racism in the United States please go to: https://www.antiracismproject.org/resources