Press Room | Facebook | Twitter | DONATE

Ways Your Congregation Can Act Now for Racial Justice

Ways Your Congregation Can Act Now for Racial Justice

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously said, “Some are guilty; all are responsible.”

White womans hands holding a sign in Hebrew and English reading YOU SHALL NOT STAND IDLE UPON THE BLOOD OF YOUR FELLOW and concluding with the phrase BLACK LIVES MATTER

George Floyd was murdered by an officer of the law whose duty was to protect him; he died crying out for his mother, begging to breathe. Ruach Elohim, the Divine Spiritcan be understood as the Breath of Life, a gift from the Creator of All Life. To deny a human being breath is idolatrous – and George Floyd’s murder comes after countless Black and Brown people have similarly been killed and countless others have suffered the brutal systems of racism in our country. 

As we said in a statement issued over the weekendthe United States simply cannot achieve the values of “justice for all" to which it aspires until we address ongoing racism in all sectors and levels of society. 

After the URJ and the RAC issued that statement, a group of Reform Jewish college students wrote to our leadership to ask what we plan to do about the scourge of racism that plagues this country – what tangible action items the Reform Movement will share, what actions we ourselves are taking to make this world one of justice, wholeness, and compassion. What we said in response to them, we now share, in part, with you, the rest of our community.   

The call to action below challenges our networks to act on local and national levels and includes guidance to support Black and Brown people both within the Jewish community and beyond, both directly and on a systemic level. It includes advocacy for policy change and for confronting racism within our own communities, including our congregations. And it is guided by contributions and feedback from Jews of Color, whose voices and experiences guide the rest of us in our fervent work to confront and put an end to racism. 

Visit URJ.org's blog to read the rest of this piece.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner represents the Reform Movement to Congress and the administration as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He also serves as the senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America, he has been an inspirational leader, creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner