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Message from Our Senior Rabbis

What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice. ~ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


Dear Beloved Community,

We are living in a precarious moment, yet sadly an enduring moment that has plagued this country for far too long. Our African American brothers and sisters’ pain and tears are crying out, as they have been for so long, demanding their dignity be as valued as any other one of God’s precious creations. Our tradition, our history, our values, and our collective Jewish conscience calls upon us to not remain silent while racism continues to pervade our society.  It is our duty as a religious community to listen, to learn, to understand, and to stand ourselves between them and harm’s way. This begins with solidarity, yes, but ends with helping to dismantle the systems of oppression embedded into the fabric of this nation. The time for ineffective Band-aids that merely hide symptoms is over. The root causes must be confronted honestly and courageously, uncomfortable as this may be. 

And our city is hurting, in some cases burning, as we have seen peaceful protests by those who are justified in anger and despair hijacked by uninvited actors uninterested in racial justice, provoking senseless destruction. Beloved institutions have been targeted and defaced, and this may likely continue.  

While we understand that these unwanted and fringe acts of chaos may create confusion, we also know that rebuilding the bricks that have fallen is possible, that broken glass can be replaced, that repainting over graffiti will happen — but always remember that the lives taken cannot be replaced, ever — each a world unto itself, more valuable than any piece of property, as the Book of Job teaches: “There is no replacing a person of wisdom. There are mines for silver, and places where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from the rock. But where can wisdom be found And where is the source of understanding? There is no replacing a person of wisdom.” (28:1-2, 12)  

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in Sunday’s LATimes: “I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”

Similarly, a famous midrash recounts that when Abramam was traveling from place to place and saw a world on fire, his response was to ask: “who is the owner of this world?” God says “it is Me” — a call and invitation to Avraham to not look away but to engage in putting out the fire and rebuilding what is broken.

Though we remain in our homes as we seek to recover as a city from Covid 19, we turn our hearts, our voices and our commitment to Jews of Color and the African American community of this country. We are with you. 
 


Rabbis Lauren Holtzblatt & Aaron Alexander
 


 

Read the Rabbinical Assembly's Statement

 

 

Read this piece from the JTA highlighting voices from Jews of Color

 

 

Click Here to join Rabbi Holtzblatt for Morning Awakening, a reflective space for meditative, transparent  expression on Tuesday morning at 9:30am 

 

 

Watch last Tuesday’s program from the Social Action Committee on racial disparities in D.C., featuring Dr. Rashawn Ray (University of Maryland, Brookings) and Ryane Nickens (TraRon Center)

 

Watch Rabbi Alexander’s Sunday Torah Bite on Abuses of Power in the Talmud

 

The Social Action Committee provided a few ways to be engaged which will be posted on the SAC webpage

 

Finally, join us Friday night for Shamayim Va-Aretz — Our Communal Service That Bridges the Heaven/Earth Divide with Soulful Sounds and Guiding Reflections from our Rabbis to Meet this Moment 6:00pm, Facebook Live

 

Fri, September 25 2020 7 Tishrei 5781