As Jews, being allies to anyone facing oppression is not a choice – it is a commandment. There is no question about this – the only debate is over whether the Torah says it 36 or 46 times. Exodus 22:20. Leviticus 19:34. Deuteronomy 10:19. And on, and on, and on, and on.
The oppression and genocides that have plagued and followed us for over 3,000 years mean that we cannot close our eyes or remain silent in the face of the pain of our Black brothers and sisters, because we are all-too-familiar with the deafening echoes of silence. When we say “never again,” it does not mean never again to us, but never again to anyone. That is our duty, our pain, and our purpose. To fight against oppression wherever it may be, and to combat injustice and senseless cruelty with which we are all too familiar.
#BlackLivesMatter. I will always be an ally in the fight against racial injustice, even while recognizing that I am but one indescribably small cog in a wheel that is far greater than myself, and far greater than anyone. I know that the most important thing I can do right now is to listen, and I am, and I will; but I also know that I must use what voice I have to pass along what I have learned from those going through a pain and anguish that I can barely conceive of, so that we as a community can educate ourselves in these vital issues, and purge our own communities of whatever prejudice and hostility we may find.
I call upon all of my fellow Jews – and all decent human beings – to do the same.
But words are not enough. Here you’ll find an article with multiple options for actions you can take to make a tangible difference in this struggle. Please find a way to help, however you can. Because these aren’t just matters of principle; they are core Jewish values. Tikkun olam (repairing the world). V’ahavta l’reacha k’mocha (love your neighbor as you love yourself). Din (justice). Bina (understanding). Derech eretz (righteous action). Rodef shalom (pursuit of peace). And achrayut (responsibility for others).
I will always strive to live by these principles, and I hope you will, too. For as the Talmud teaches us:
“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a))
Let us save the world – one precious, precious life at a time.