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- Who We Are
The following statement was issued by the Union for Reform Judaism earlier this month. We join our national movement from a place of both humility and introspection as we loudly say Black Lives Matter.
Throughout the past 400 years, Black people in America have been enslaved, subjugated, disenfranchised, murdered, and discriminated against. From generation to generation, white Americans, including white Jews, have failed to own and end the systemic racial injustices on which the nation was founded, and instead have actively or passively perpetuated these injustices.
Our Jewish tradition is replete with instances of moral reckoning when we are asked to be present and accounted for. “Ayecha?,” we are asked. “Where are you?” We respond with a full throated, “Hineinu.” “We are here.”
As Reform Jews committed to the spirit of this teaching, we say unequivocally, Black Lives Matter.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to commit to a human and civil rights movement, working to end systemic racism against Black people and white supremacy.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to recognize that we are a racially diverse Reform Jewish Movement, and that our diversity is a source of our strength.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is for white Reform Jews to pledge to be in solidarity with Black Jews and Black people from all backgrounds against racial injustice and to act accordingly.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to recognize the imperative to live with complexity and know that we can be steadfast in our love of and support for Israel while working side by side with those who hold differing views and express them respectfully.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to accept discomfort, knowing that actions or inaction of white Jews have contributed to ongoing racial injustice.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to move beyond allyship and commit to long-term solutions both internally in ourselves, our own organization, and externally in our communities to disrupt and dismantle white supremacy.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to acknowledge that Black people risk their personal comfort and safety every day in white dominated institutions, and that white Jews must commit to risking their personal comfort and even safety in the struggle for racial justice.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to ensure that People of Color can be whole, never expected to choose between aspects of their identity and celebrate the multifaceted nature of humanity.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to commit to individual and organizational antiracist trainings, identifying specific antiracist hiring practices and lay structures, and outlining goals around specific racial justice action steps.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is for white Jews to reflect on their own thoughts and behavior, to build meaningful relationships with Jews of Color and People of Color generally, and to work for reforms that will achieve real, lived freedom for Black people.
We affirm that Black Lives Matter.
Learn, Read, Listen, Act:
We want to first acknowledge the transformative role of antiracist work led by April Baskin, former vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism, who provided instrumental strategy and vision for the Audacious Hospitality initiative, which we continue to build off of today. Many of the Jewish leaders of Color who have and continue to guide the Reform Jewish Movement were engaged and mentored by April, and she remains a thought leader in the field. You can read many of April’s writings here, including her poem “Racial Justice is a Jewish Issue.”
Click HERE to learn more.