In Solidarity Against Racism
This morning, Rabbi Isaac and I sent the following letter to leaders and pastors of African American churches in the local Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti communities. It is incumbent upon us, as Jews, to speak out against hatred, to speak out against racism, to speak out against discrimination, to speak out against bigotry, to speak out against violence, and to speak out against injustice in all its forms. If not now, when?
It is with heavy hearts that we join with the African American community in mourning the death of George Floyd and the deaths of Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and countless other unarmed People of Color by police officers and others who abuse their positions of authority and privilege with their racist attitudes and actions. These travesties of justice, performed by the very people assigned to pursue and protect justice, are an affront to all people everywhere. We wish to express our deep support and condolences to you, our brothers and sisters in the local Black community. We pray alongside you that God would comfort the friends and families of those slain and would put an end to all racist violence in America and throughout the world.
Racism is a crime against humanity. It denies the dignity and infinite worth of People of Color. We stand with the African American community in the injustice that you face. It is wrong. And we, as a congregation of white, American Messianic Jews cannot stand aside and do nothing. We acknowledge the injustice, the systemic racism you face as black Americans, the bigotry you regularly confront, and the discrimination you navigate on a daily basis and we say it is wrong. We call it out for what it is, blatant hatred. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian and philosopher who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma more than 50 years ago observed:
“Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal and evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking. How many disasters do we have to go through in order to realize that all of humanity has a stake in the liberty of one person; whenever one person is offended, we are all hurt. What begins as inequality of some inevitably ends as inequality of all.”
Congregation Zera Avraham respects people of all ethnicities, cultures and faiths and their contributions to humanity’s collective well-being. Diversity is a fundamental value at the heart of the success, strength, and resilience of our communities.
The Prophet Amos's advice is clear; "Let justice roll on like an ever-flowing river and righteousness like a mighty stream" (5:24). Former British Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks explains that traditional Judaism's yearning for the Messiah, and we would add our own yearning for His return, signifies our dissatisfaction with the current state of the world and our ongoing protest against its injustices. Former Israeli President Shimon Peres called this "dissatisfaction" our greatest gift to humanity. It is our job as Jews to constantly labor to mend the world, making it a place of peace and justice, and therefore, we are committed to speaking up to oppose racism and hate in all its forms. Our members have been speaking out on social media and as local protests, vigils, memorials, or events of solidarity are held, let us know when and where and we will be there too.
This past week has reminded us yet again that we have a long way to go in our work towards a more just society for all. We will not stop fighting for a world free of racism and bigotry in all its forms.
An attack on one of us is an attack on us all. We stand together, regardless of race, religion, culture, or creed. May the One who gave us the ability to cry wipe away our tears forever, speedily, and soon and in our days.
Sincerely in Yeshua,
Rabbi Isaac Roussel Ken
Congregational Leader Assistant Congregational Leader