*The DJC’s statement contains excerpts and wisdom from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights , and Avodah: Sparking Jewish Leaders, Igniting Social Change.
“When the community is immersed in suffering, a person may not say: I will go to my home and I will eat and drink, and peace be upon you, my soul.” (Talmud Taanit 11a)
At the DJC, we are committed to justice, equity and standing against racism — both within our community and beyond our community. We know that racist violence does not affect all of us equally, but we all stand together in partnership and solidarity in the work to end racism. We know that in this moment, those of us who are not being targeted with racism, are called upon to learn, to examine ourselves, and importantly, to act. There is a list of resources and places to make donations below this statement.
The DJC mourns the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. We send condolences and strength to George Floyd’s family and friends. We are witnesses to another tragic example of the racist violence perpetuated by police officers, who are charged with protecting all – not only some. We remember the many Black people whose lives have been robbed by police brutality in the United States – Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Delrawn Small, Tamir Rice. And the list goes on and on.
We are witnesses to the use of tear gas and other violent means against those protesting racist violence, a striking contrast to the images of police standing still, as armed white protesters occupied the Minnesota State House earlier this month.
We also know that we are not immune to this type of racial injustice here in Canada and in Toronto. We stand with those demanding answers and justice in the recent death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet as we continue to address the on-going impact of colonial and racist oppression against Black, Indigenous, and other non-White communities in this country.
As Jews, we have a responsibility to speak up against white supremacy and all forms of racism. White Jews especially have the responsibility not to centre their own voices and experiences, but to listen deeply to Jews of Colour and all People of Colour and to support their voices. For this reason, we will leave off with the words of Evan Traylor (an educator, activist and soon-to-be rabbinical student), which we include with his permission:
Right now, Black Jews are grieving. We’re grieving for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. But we’re grieving for so many more lives, Black lives, that have been taken from this earth far too early because of brutal, systemic racism. And that pain isn’t going away tomorrow, or next week, or next month. It’s going to last for generations to come. And, if we want a better world, we have to change the system.
I’m grateful for so many white Jewish allies who have reached out, comforted me, supported me not just over the last week, but for years now. And right now, we need more from our white Jewish siblings, and more from our Jewish institutions – we need support, allyship, resources, and strategies to confront racism in our community, and in our world. We are all created in the image of God – it’s time to build the Jewish community and world that makes our Torah true in this age.
(These words are an excerpt from “’Believe Us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd Protests, in their own words”, which can be found here)
Board Co-Chairs, Emma Firsten-Kaufman, Kathy Glazier and Nicki Weiss, Director Education of Alysse Rich, and Rabbi Miriam
Intersectionality as a Jewish Practice – www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYRDP6aaZZI&list=PLJFSdS2WHC9k8tuJ0r4SWdGA2AM3AViso
Do Not Stand Idly By, a teaching by Ebn Leader – www.youtube.com/watch?v=av_L8DGGxQc&feature=youtu.be
Speak Torah to Power Series – avodah.net/speaktorahtopower/
On Racial Divisions and Covid-19 – avodah.net/revelation-revolution-and-relationships-on-shavuot/
“What We In the Black Community Need from Jews Right Now” – forward.com/opinion/447721/what-we-in-the-black-community-need-from-jews-right-now/
“‘Believe Us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd Protests, in their own words” – www.jta.org/2020/05/31/united-states/believe-us-black-jews-respond-to-the-george-floyd-protests-in-their-own-words?fbclid=IwAR2FD8EmfzDnxQNeJgBeuLCrpffQy6irbVmvv1lGR3CipktdhyG3CZ8VhGg
Resources for Speaking to Children about Race:
PJ Library: “What is Jewish About Respecting Differences?” – pjlibrary.org/beyond-books/pjblog/january-2017/respecting-differences
Book lists –
Resource roundup –
100 Race-conscious things you can say to your child to advance racial justice –
Donations are encouraged to the following organizations:
Black Lives Matter TO – blacklivesmatter.ca/donate/
A very useful and Canadian-centred list of places to donate can be found here – exclaim.ca/music/article/black_lives_matter_a_statement_from_exclaim