Responding to a Society in Crisis

Protest in Livingston; photo courtesy of northjersey.com

Protest in Livingston; photo courtesy of northjersey.com

With great sorrow and great outrage, I join with all people who steadfastly stand for the ultimate value of every human life. The murder of Mr. George Floyd is one more obscene crime in a long history of crimes committed against people of color in our society, crimes that have been ignored and dismissed for too long, crimes that seek to declare that Black lives just do not matter. Black Lives Matter.

During this time of global pandemic, we are under incredible strain to protect our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, and, if we take this situation seriously, the lives of all people. But we must realize that we have been exposed, not only to a deadly virus, but also to long festering failures in how we live as a society. So, it is doubly tragic that in this time when saving a life is so paramount in our thinking, the wanton disregard for human life, systemically entrenched in our society, still continues to thrive.

Saving and protecting every life is a supreme value taught by our Jewish tradition. The Sages taught: “One who saves even one life, is accounted as if they saved an entire world.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) This teaching has been embraced by all Abrahamic faiths and by all peoples world-wide. We are united as one living community.

We are living under incredible stress. So it is imperative that our responses to crisis and tragedy be supportive of the values we cherish. Non-violence must be our choice for protesting. But the call for non-violence must also extend to the powerful forces that seek to subdue protest. Law enforcement groups that have cooperated with communities instead of confronting and attacking them have made great strides toward beginning to repair our damaged country.

It is important that we stand as a community to support our Black brothers and sisters and it is important that our support bear practical results. Please take note of the message sent out by our Shomrei Social Action Group. Here are a few organizations that do good work and that deserve our support:

To help protesters get out of jail, a space that is an hazardous during the pandemic, by posting bond – ACT BLUE

Sign the petition for #JusticeForFloyd
Join over 3 million people who added their name to Color of Change’s petition demanding the officers who killed George Floyd be charged with murder.

Support the Movement for Black Lives week of action June 1-5. The Movement For Black Lives, and organizers mobilizing across the country, invite
you to uplift and fight alongside those turning up in the streets and online.

Please consider a donation to one of these organizations actively working to fight racism:

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Rabbi David Greenstein

Rabbi David Greenstein

Rabbi David Greenstein arrived at Shomrei Emunah in August 2009 with a rich, broad and deep background as a rabbi, cantor, artist, scholar, and teacher. Being Shomrei’s rabbi, he says, allows him to draw on all of these passions, as well as his lifelong commitment to building Jewish communities.
Rabbi David Greenstein

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