Like many of you, I’ve spent sleepless nights this past week glued to the television, seeing things that I never expected to see in our country.
We shouldn’t be surprised to see protests demanding justice springing up all over our nation after the tragic murder of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis. These are expressions of collective outrage.
I’m troubled by the acts of vandalism and violence that have tainted otherwise peaceful protests around the country, but in this moment we need to stay focused on the core story.
George Floyd is that story. Breonna Taylor is that story. Ahmaud Arbery. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. They are the story.
We must work to change the thinking and systems that have institutionalized racism, but it is more than just institutions that need to change; it is us as individuals. During the Civil Rights era, Rabbi Abraham Heschel joined Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Alabama march from Selma to Montgomery. Rabbi Heschel said afterward, “I prayed with my feet.” We continue this today as we stand in solidarity with people of color and our allies in the Black community.
In the Jewish tradition, we close the week on Shabbat, taking time for reflection, learning and meaningful conversation, often with family and friends. We encourage the ADL community — across faiths and cultures — to spend this weekend sharing awareness of, reflecting on and grappling with the protests motivated by George Floyd’s murder, systemic racism in America and how to secure a more just and inclusive society.
Whether you are gathered at home with family, or gathering virtually with your community online, we encourage you to deepen your understanding of the conversation in our country around racism, systems of oppression and equity. We urge you to build awareness on social media by sharing the ways you will be spending #JusticeShabbat.