A Message from Rabbi Eitan About Black Lives Matter
It’s Not Fair
Years ago I saw piece on The Oprah Show called “Trading Schools. ” In the episode, high school students from Chicago and Naperville visited each other’s schools. As the cameras rolled, it quickly became abundantly clear that the differences between the schools were glaring, stark, and outright shameful. Watching this (click the title above) is a good place to start to understand the rage in the streets of America amongst protesters of all colors, races, and creeds.
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others at the hands of police and vigilantes are abhorrent, tragic and inexcusable. Yet, the pain and rage run much, much deeper. America is a society riddled with prejudice, discrimination, and racism. It is in our history and our very DNA. Immigrant communities have experienced it to various degrees. We Jews have dealt with anti-Semitism over the centuries. However, the injustices committed against people of color through the ages are exceptionally egregious and cruel.
We Jews understand rebellion against persecution. The Exodus account is only the beginning. We have numerous stories of standing up to those who oppressed us. That is why our Jewish leaders marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and the Jewish and African-American communities have been close allies in the civil rights movement ever since. We Jews understand prejudice, we understand brutality, we understand unfairness, and we understand outrage. While I condemn violence and looting, I do support protest as a necessary means to heal the wrongs in our society. Simply put, discrimination is not fair and it’s not right.
I urge you all to hear the message of the peaceful protesters. Join with them if you can. The message is patriotic. The message is powerful. The message is important. The message is righteous. America is a land that recognizes in our founding documents a fundamental Jewish message, that all people are created equal and that all people have the right to equal opportunity and fair treatment under the law. It is time that America starts behaving that way.
May we all stand in unity with our African American brothers and sisters in a shared sense of anguish, pain, and indignation. May we work together towards banishing bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice from our land. May we soon see the day when all Americans will live in fairness, dignity, and opportunity. May we know the time when the words of the prophet Amos will ring true: “Let justice well up like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
L'shalom (In Peace),
Rabbi Eitan Weiner-Kaplow
Shir Hadash Synagogue
200 W. Dundee Road
Wheeling IL 60090-4750