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We Will Not Stand Idly By

Rockdale Temple decries the murder of George Floyd. Once again, we bear witness to the great pain of the injustices that People of Color are subjected to in this country. Once again, we cry out against racism and the systems that allow it to perpetuate. Once again, we see – and participate in – the protests swelling across the nation as thousands of people share their anger, grief, and thirst for justice.

We have been here before. Throughout our country’s history, and certainly in the very recent past, we have seen devastating examples of persistent systemic racism that has led to the deaths of other human beings. The NAACP reminds us that, “senseless hate crimes and incidence of COVID-19 cases and deaths spreading throughout the Black community display the continuance of systematic racism and privilege granted to white people in America.” With this in mind, we take to heart the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said, “… morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” We are all responsible for what comes next in our communities, our city, our state, and our country.

We echo the call of Torah: we will not stand idly by (Exodus 19:16).

It is not enough to refrain from bigotry, racism, or violence. We must not be complicit. We must take action. Here are some ways each of us can be an upstander at this important time:

  1. Learn. Read books and articles about African-American identity, racism, and justice, particularly those by Black authors. None of our children are too young to begin this conversation; smaller kids can start by reading books and playing with toys that feature children of color. All may learn from the National Museum of African American History & Culture’s new Talking About Race resource.
  2. Reach Out. Build relationships with People of Color and anyone with a different racial, ethnic, or religious identity. Remember that Jews of Color are part of our community! Connect with friends in the Black community who are scared and in pain and share your support and care.
  3. Raise your Voice. If you are able (and feel comfortable doing so at this time of COVID-19), show up and participate peacefully in a planned, local protest. If you cannot attend in person, show support by providing resources to those protesting. Contact your government officials (find your: Senators, Representatives, Ohio Officials, Kentucky Officials) and demand accountability, transparency, and justice throughout our criminal justice system.
  4. Make Change. Participate in Rockdale’s Justice Collaborative work – contact Andi Herzig, Justin Levy, or Joan Roberts. The Justice Collaborative is actively reaching out to our friends in the Black community to offer support and solidarity. Find actionable items at the RAC of Reform Judaism’s Racial Justice page. Get involved with the Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate. Join the efforts of the NAACP’s We are Done Dying campaign.

We will not stand idly by the blood of our fellow human beings. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of justice and pursuit of peace.

Rabbi Meredith Kahan
Acting Senior Rabbi

Rockdale Temple Board of Directors
Jim Heldman, President
John Cobey, President-Elect

Rockdale Temple’s Justice Collaborative
Andi Herzig, Justin Levy, Joan Roberts, co-chairs

We also recommend to you the important statements of our Jewish and faith-based communal partners:

JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
Union for Reform Judaism / Religious Action Center
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate
EquaSion/Cincinnati Festival of Faiths

Wed, July 24 2024 18 Tammuz 5784