As rabbis and cantors, we join our voices with people of all Americans to protest yet another senseless death of another black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer. This act of one officer, who had been cited for multiple infractions over several years, was, in his murderous assault on Mr. Floyd, aided and unhindered by three other officers. This heinous act fits a pattern of racial hatred and highlights the stark inequalities in our law enforcement and criminal justice system. Our tradition teaches us that we are all created in the image of God. Let us seek to create a society in which this principle is reflected in equality and justice – and “if not now, when?”
This nation was built on the premise that all persons are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, these ideals have never been fully extended as equitable rights to persons of color. When the Declaration of Independence was written and for many long years afterward, black men, women and children were considered property.
We are all heirs to this grim legacy as we lament that people of color still bear the trauma of that history and violence in their daily lives.
Most of us, white or black, will feel a sense of unease when a siren is heard coming our way. While this is true, most likely for most, it is because you know you are speeding, and will likely be pulled over, receive a ticket or warning, and then go on your way. But do you question your safety at the hands of the police? In many cases, the level of anxiety and fear experienced will differ greatly between black and white. Members of the black community will recall the treatment received by Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Rodney King, Emmett Till and so many others at the hands of police. The brutal truth is that if you are black, you are not living the same American dream that white families experience. Parents of black boys do not have the luxury of relaxing once their children are able to leave home without supervision. Sadly, black people in America believe, with much justification, that a brown-skinned man-boy has a target on his back; he can never experience a feeling of freedom and safety when walking or driving down the street.
Our beloved city of Boston has seen violence as we are added to the list of cities around our country being burned and looted. We deplore the rioting and while we understand the rage and frustration, we cannot condone the violence perpetrated by a few, which threatens to drown out the voices of thousands of peaceful protesters calling for justice and systemic change. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Let our voices now be heard by all as we stand as Jews and as Americans together with all faith leaders and people across our country. We say, “enough” – enough hate, enough bigotry, enough unfair treatment of our fellow Americans, enough violence. Enough!
We call on our leaders and our communities to decry violence and create just systems that will accord all persons a rightful and secure place in our society and in our communities. Let us rebuild our society on the foundations of Tzedek – Justice and Shalom – Peace.
Rabbis David Kudan and Richard Perlman, Co-Presidents NSRCA
Rabbi Alison Adler, Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly
Rabbi Bernie Horowitz, Associate Rabbi, Temple Ner Tamid, Peabody
Rabbi Steven Lewis, Temple Ahavat Achim, Gloucester
Rabbi David J. Meyer, Temple Emanu-El, Marblehead
Rabbi Michael Ragozin, Congregation Shirat Hayam, Swampscott
Cantor Vera Broekhuysen, Haverhill
Rabbi Rim Meirowitz, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Shir Tikvah, Winchester
Student Rabbi, David Joslin