Words and Action: A Shabbat Message

Words and Action: A Shabbat Message

We come to the end of a long and turbulent week for our country and local communities. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has revealed, once again, the malignant power of racism.

As Jews, we need little reminder. Sadly, we are used to bearing witness to acts of hatred, to mourning its victims and to demanding, in its wake, a safer and more humane world.

Just as we have grieved for the many victims of anti-Semitism, we now grieve alongside the Black community and express our heartfelt condolences to George Floyd’s family. We also recognize and honor the numerous others who have been targeted and killed because of the color of their skin. Alongside Jewish organizations across the nation, we call for an end to racial bigotry and violence wherever and however it may manifest.

Many have rightly noted that words alone are not sufficient. But as individuals and as a united community, we struggle to understand how so much hatred can still exist in our society and to identify what we can do in response.

The core tenets of Judaism offer a way forward. We are reminded to not only cherish and respect all people, but also to stand with victims of hatred and bigotry and to call out injustice when it appears. As we noted in our recent statement, the Federation is founded and run on Jewish values, and we remain actively committed to the eradication of hate.

One of the most important ways we engage in this work is through our support and partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC of Metropolitan Detroit, an organization whose mission includes the building of collaborative relationships with other ethnic, racial and religious groups. The JCRC/AJC translates values into actions through a variety of education, outreach and advocacy programs.

One such program is the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity, which has been working to promote solidarity among Detroit Jews and African-Americans while tackling issues affecting both groups. The JCRC/AJC and the Coalition have been on the front lines of the effort to combat racism and intolerance, working together to end racial bigotry and anti-Semitism.

On behalf of the JCRC/AJC, we invite you to join “Racial Inequity in These Trying Times,” next Thursday, June 11 at 11:30 a.m. regarding how the state is responding to racial disparities. You can register here. You may also be interested in viewing the recording of this week’s online event with the African-American leaders of the Coalition.

Showing up for events such as this—learning, communicating and raising your hand in protest, when necessary, alongside members of the black community—marks a small but important step forward. Lending your voice and spirit can tip the balance, however subtly, toward a more just and equitable society for all.

As we head into Shabbat, we wish everyone the blessings of peace and comfort, health and happiness for their family and loved ones.

Beverly B. Liss
Jewish Federation of Detroit
Alan Jay Kaufman
United Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit