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Rabbi's Week In Review- June 30, 2020

06/30/2020 01:41:27 PM

Jun30

I had the opportunity to attend (and, as it turned out, speak at) a rally in support of Black employees at the Veterans Administration Hospital here in Kansas City. This was a midday rally, nowhere near the Plaza, and thus not as well attended as the many rallies in support of Black Lives Matter at Mill Creek Park on the Plaza.

Yet, it held great meaning and purpose. A widespread arousal of righteous outrage has occurred over the murder of George Floyd, and rightfully so. However, the specific issues surrounding his death should not obscure the broader issues of systemic racism that have plagued our country literally for centuries.  

If we are truly being anti-racist, as it is described by Ibram X. Kendi, we are compelled to address more subtle yet equally insidious forms of racism. Lack of access to decent health care, unemployment, access to a quality education (including, in this time of virtual learning, access to a laptop and the internet), and greater investment in the Black community all figure into the work of fighting racism.

The month of Tammuz began this past week on the Jewish calendar. The 17th of Tammuz is a minor fast day (sunup to sundown rather than a 24-hour fast), which initiates a three-week period of mourning leading to Tisha B’Av, a day commemorating all of the tragic events in our Jewish history. We learn of our role in bringing about tragedy. Failure to stand up for others, failure to honor the sanctity and dignity of every human life when we have the opportunity to do so ultimately leads to our own demise.

In this moment, we are presented with an opportunity to act. We must do our part to ensure that righteous anger is not the end of the discussion, that this anger be transformed into real progress that translates into meaningful policy to eradicate systemic racism once and for all.  As Jews, we know of our obligation to act for good, and the price we pay when we fail to act.

Fri, July 3 2020 11 Tammuz 5780