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Petaluma's Inclusive Center for Jewish Life

Words are Hard to Find

06/04/2020 05:09:15 PM


Rabbi Ted Feldman

As Jews, we should understand the anger that builds up over generations and generations confronting racism. George Floyd's death is an affront to the moral teachings that comprise the fabric of our free society. We are taught to not stand idly by the pain of our neighbors. What we witnessed on the viral videos was the fulfillment of an admonition in the Ethics of our Sages, the reward of one crime is another crime. Not only was there one perpetrator of this crime, but those who stood by joined in responsibility.

As I write this note, demonstrators are in front of the Petaluma Police Department, freely and, I hope, peacefully, expressing their solidarity with the thousands and thousands of people who have walked and cried and marched and prayed for change and healing. Our Chief of Police has expressed his and his officers horror at what has happened.

For us as Jews, finding ourselves in a period of rising anti-Semitism, these events and threats of military invention should raise our antennae and remind us that our vigilance is important now, as ever. In doing that, though, we want to join with the myriad of Jewish and community organizations who stand with the African American community in demanding a stop to these events which destroy lives, families, and communities. I feel like I am going back to the 1950's and recall driving in Tennessee during the early stages of the civil rights movement. I remember, as a child, seeing cars overturned, smoke billowing from buildings, police in riot gear and whites and blacks trying to heal the then racism that permeated life in those communities. It feels like deja vu. Watching the news this week reminded me that there our parts of our world still needing healing and renewal.

I know that I should be writing a long analyses of these events using Jewish sources and reminding us of our roots. I have to believe that most, if not all, of those reading this feel that urge for justice in our guts. Given what is happening, I am planning to offer a class in Jewish notions of social justice...just to remind ourselves from whence we came and where we can go.Please stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I invite to to affirm through your thoughts and actions that black lives do, indeed, matter. In fact, all of human life matters and right now we are focusing on understanding what is going on in our society and offering our thoughts, actions, donations, demonstrations to express our work to make a more just society.

May we all reach into our hearts and check out our own prejudices as we reach out beyond ourselves to make a difference in our world.


Rabbi Ted Feldman

Thu, June 1 2023 12 Sivan 5783