It is almost impossible for me to imagine the depth of rage, fear, sadness and despair among African American communities in the wake of repeated police brutality and murder of unarmed people of color, and yet surely now that anger at such injustice has to be taken on by all of us. George Floyd, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery – all human beings created in the Divine image with rights to dignity and safety like all of us – have been murdered in the last few months by law enforcement that is supposed to keep us all safe. How can it be? We can condemn peaceful protests turned violent, but we have to understand the boiling rage at the continued systemic racism in this country. The destruction of property is awful and sad, but the taking of innocent human life is incomparably worse.
Last night I joined the NAACP, mainly because I don’t know what else to do. Dozens of Jewish organizations have issued very strong statements of solidarity in the wake of the brutal killing of George Floyd. Here are some of them:
- Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative/Masorti Rabbis
- Central Conference of Rabbis (Reform)
- Truah – The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
With us still in the anxiety and fear of COVID19 and coming out of Shavuot where we recommit ourselves to the values of Torah, so many of us feel at a loss to know how to respond and what to do. Clearly strong statements are not enough, but they are a start as they express solidarity and demand change. In the words of part of the Rabbinical Assembly’s statement:
“We join in the collective call for peace and reflection during civil unrest, but understand that to achieve this end we must act. For these reasons, the Rabbinical Assembly calls on legislators at the national, state, and local levels to fundamentally change their approach to law enforcement and the justice system so that they serve and protect all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. We encourage our own members to reach out to other communities, to Jews of Color, as well as to local law enforcement to help lead and shape these endeavors within the community.”
Let’s do what we can.
Ahmaud Arbery was not killed by law enforcement.