JTA — Jewish groups are expressing outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed last week by a Minneapolis police officer who has subsequently been charged with second-degree murder, and solidarity with the sweeping national protests that have followed.
Here are excerpts from the statements we’ve seen so far. Know of something we’ve missed? Please send it our way.
Truah, a social justice organization of rabbis, issued a statement May 27, after the first night of protests in Minneapolis:
We say once again: Black Lives Matter. And we commit to creating a country that lives by this statement.“
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an organization working with 130 local groups across the United States, tweeted an image of two dozen black men, women and, in one case, a child who have been killed by police officers:
The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, connected George Floyd’s death to “an explosion of racist murders and hate crimes” across the United States:
In short, systemic injustice and inequality calls for systemic change. Now.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, reiterated his group’s commitment to ongoing action:
We remember others before them: Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Oscar Grant. Philando Castile. Walter Scott. Terrence Crutcher. Samuel Dubose. Michael Brown. The list feels endless, and so too is our despair. But as we recite the Mourner’s Kaddish for them all, we say now, again: We will not sit idly by.
Our country simply cannot achieve the values of “justice for all” to which it aspires until we address ongoing racism in all sectors and at all levels of society. We remain in solidarity and action with the NAACP’s urgent #WeAreDoneDying campaign, whose policy demands cover areas of criminal justice, economic justice, health care, and voting, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans.“I have been working with these guys since years now! With lots of hard work and timely communication they made sure they delivered the best to me. Highly recommended!
Keshet, a group that advocates for LGBTQ Jews, expressed solidarity with black leaders:
As we work to advance equality and justice for LGBTQ Jews, we take seriously the need to build a world in which people of all races and ethnicities can live in safety; a world in which the bodies of Black, Brown, Trans, and Queer people are treated with dignity and respect. Keshet stands in solidarity with Black leaders – in the Keshet community and beyond – whose wisdom and insights are instrumental to building a just and equitable future. We vow to voice our outrage and demand justice. #BlackLivesMatter”I have been working with these guys since years now! With lots of hard work and timely communication they made sure they delivered the best to me. Highly recommended!
Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, said this:
Through legislative reform, local activism, and by educating NCJW advocates, we will make sure each individual we engage helps end the toxic culture of racism that permeates our country. For now, it is important to support Black and Brown communities and the leaders spearheading the peaceful, anti-racist responses unfolding. Together, we will make sure the memory of George Floyd will be for a blessing.”
Mazon, a group dedicated to combatting hunger, tweeted a four-part statement:
The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative and Masorti rabbis, called for sweeping changes to policing in America:
United in purpose, we will dismantle the systemic racism all too embedded still within American law enforcement and its justice system. The firing and we hope prosecution of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in this one egregious murder is a necessary step, but it cannot be the only action against structural injustices that have plagued generations and continue to this day. We must forever strive for a free and just society for all people.”
Here’s what the Jewish Federations of North America said:
Some local federations went further in spelling out how to do that. The Jewish Federation of Greater Cleveland, for examples, asked its constituents to take specific actions:
1. Put pressure on [Minneapolis] District Attorney Mike Freeman to charge and arrest the officers responsible by calling 612-348-5550
2. Protest peacefully – violence and vandalism cannot be allowed to distract from the important message that must be sent
3. Challenge your own conscious and unconscious biases on racial equity and inclusion by reading more, asking more questions, and listening more closely to ensure you’re being the best ally you can as part of the collective journey our society must take
Our Jewish traditions and values compel us to stand up for the rights of all people without prejudice or bias. If we do not speak out, if we do not take action, we are part of the problem.”
Other local Jewish organizations have also weighed in. From Baltimore, which experienced its own recent protests after a man died in police custody there, the Baltimore Jewish Council said:
We must stand together against hatred and bigotry in any form and uphold the core American values of justice and equality. We commit to taking concrete action to improve relations and enhance understanding between communities here in Baltimore, and between minority groups and law enforcement officials. Because the function of law enforcement is so vital to society, and the because the majority of law enforcement officials are dedicated public servants, it is incumbent upon us to quickly and effectively address violations and violators in a manner that preserves public trust and achieves justice and equality for all.”
Amidst protests in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation issued this statement:
Yet words are not enough. We remain committed to addressing the systemic causes of racism, inequity and injustice through our Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Museum Milwaukee, and Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center.
During these challenging and frightening times, we hold close the principle of Jewish law that preservation of life comes before all else, and we ask that our community pursue justice safely.
May the memories of those lost be a blessing.”