Like all of you, I felt outrage when I first saw that brutal scene of George Floyd on the ground with an officer’s knee in his neck. But there were also the other three officers who stood aside as a man desperately cried out for his life. For sure, they are accomplices to this horrendous crime and I suspect that most of us would agree that they too should be charged in this murder.
One of the most important commandments of our Torah is “thou shalt not stand idly by while thy neighbor bleeds.” In other words, don’t just stand there and watch as evil is being committed against a helpless man, and all the more so for those who are charged to be upholders of the law.
But even as we think about the guilt of the officers,I believe that there is reason to hope for a better time. Across the country, so many thousands of people are peacefully coming together to protest the injustices of our society. There is reason to hope for a better time because so many of the protestors are young, and possess a vision of an America that is embracing of all its people, and where “justice for all” is a reality and not a distant dream.
Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust, tried to teach us that the greatest sin is not to hate our fellow human beings. Rather, the greatest sin is to be indifferent to their cries. A reminder to all of us that our voices matter,that that we all have a great stake in bringing about a better time for our country. A time when we will heed the words first set forth in our Torah: “You shall have one manner of law…” for all people.
A beautiful Hassidic teaching: “You say that you love me. But how can you love me if you don’t know what hurts me?” Yes, we Jews know too well of the pain of Black America. We know well what it means to be looked upon as less than human.
So may our congregation ever be a beacon of light in an often darkened world. We know so well that all that evil needs to prevail is for good and decent people to turn their back and remain silent.
I wish you a Sabbath of peace as we yearn for a time of healing and renewal for our hurting society. We believe that such a time will yet come to our country, but only if we care enough to make our voices heard.