The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Though the media coverage may have slowed, protests in Ferguson are still ongoing. The challenges of racial divides and mistrust that afflict communities across the U.S. are a tragic emblem of how much work remains to be done to overcome divisions rooted in our nation’s history and the persistence of racial and ethnic disparities. Noting the need to address these issues, many organizations have joined together to continue hosting marches, events and panels to build momentum. A few weeks ago, a number of national and local organizations partnered to host a Weekend of Resistance.
Protestors took to the streets October 10-13, calling attention to the fact that this is a struggle for civil and human rights. Hundreds of demonstrators, including a diverse group of local and national clergy, gathered on Monday at the police headquarters in Ferguson and committed acts of civil disobedience for a Faith in Ferguson March as part of “Moral Monday.” Approximately 200 clergy were in attendance, about 30 of whom were Jewish. The Moral Monday movement began in North Carolina during a “Moral Week of Action,” but has spread to at least 13 states.
Many Reform Jews participated in the weekend’s events, most notably Rabbi Susan Talve and many of her colleagues and congregants from Central Reform Synagogue in St. Louis. When I spoke with her on the phone last week, she told me about the religiously and denominationally diverse group of clergy members who have joined together to participate in and support the protests that are happening on a daily basis. Not only are they working on the front lines every day (she goes almost every night) to lift up the voices of the black and brown youth that are leading the movement, but they have also begun preparing their congregations to serve as sanctuaries should riots erupt if the police officer is not convicted. There are many factors at play that could influence whether or not he is convicted, and the recent forensic evidence they he may not have had his hands up when he was shot further complicate the case.
Last month, one of the synagogue rabbis picked up a few of their congregants in the middle of the night who had been teargased and just last week, two African American members of the congregation, one of whom serves on the board, were arrested. Rabbi Talve explained that there is no question as to whether or not Jews should be involved: this is a civil rights issue and the time for action is now.
This week at our biannual Commission on Social Action meeting, I gave a d’var Torah about acting in the image of Abraham and fighting for justice for everyone. I hope that even as Ferguson October ends, the fight for justice and equality will continue and we will work together to change the way the justice system interacts with people of color.