We Jews who have known so much persecution throughout history: We can surely identify with Black America and the struggle for justice and equality. So it was very meaningful to be among those who attended a solidarity demonstration this past Sunday in Mount Kisco.
I thought it was a beautiful and peaceful display of both outrage over the murder of George Floyd, as well as it was a gathering of hope. It was a gathering of people of all ages and skin colors. People who cared enough to come together, for some, to chance the virus as they never have. But we were all there because we share an ideal that should be a reality: a time when people will judge and treat each other, not by the color of their skin, or their country of origin. But rather, we seek the reality of a society intent upon justice for all. A time when we may not love each other, but a time when we will recognize the inherent sanctity of every human life, and treat each other with understanding and respect.
I try to imagine what a Black person feels, especially now. Yes, as a Jew I can surely feel for some of what he feels. Our history is filled with injustices committed against our ancestors, even as we know that anti-Semitism is flourishing throughout the world and in this country….and maybe even in this community. So I can identify with my friend and his feelings of outrage and hurt. The words “Never Again” ring hollow to him.
It is told that there was an elderly man who would walk the streets of his town, shouting all the time for people to change their ways and become more kind toward each other. One day a young girl approached the man and said: “I see you always shouting for people to change. Don’t you see that the people are ignoring you? You’re not changing the way they behave.” And the elderly man responded: “I’ve seen so much cruelty in my life. So I do keep shouting, not because I believe that I can change the people; I keep shouting so they don’t change me!”
Our sages taught: “The world is sustained by three things: by justice, by truth and by peace.” Our Torah commands: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all who dwell in it.” And our prophets cried out: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” That is our Jewish tradition, and still it speaks to us of the dream of establishing a society rooted in our quest for liberty and justice for all.
I hope you will join us this evening for our STAND UP FOR JUSTICE SHABBAT. We will hear from Rev. Kim NcNair of the Antioch Baptist Church. She will be speaking about her experiences as a Black woman and the state of our society at the present time.