A Letter to the Jewish Community

May 19, 2022Jill Housen

I read a quote today by Sy Smith that said, "Black people in the U.S. are expected to keep on keeping on, no matter what. Keep on working, keep on schooling, keep entertaining, keep laughing, keep loving, and keep doing life as if acts of domestic terrorism aren't perpetual threats to our very existence here." How true! How true this is when you are Black and a Jew. The level of exhaustion is too much to bear at times. We need the comfort of our spiritual community, just as we come to you when tragedy strikes as both a show of solidarity and an acknowledgement that it directly affects us. Do you see us? Do the tears that we shed for our Jewish community matter? We need to hear your outrage at the senseless massacre in Buffalo because we are a part of you. Silence is a victory for those determined to destroy both of us.

We are in the month of Iyar, the month of healing. It is time to focus on our internal and communal healing in our respective communities and together. We must continue to build connections and coalitions. I believe that I represent one of the most powerful and beautiful intersections in that I am a Jew, and I am Black. I am Black and I am a Jew. Not one or the other, but a wonderful creation that cannot be denied. I am here. See me and appreciate me for all that I am. Stand up for me as I stand up for you.

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. G-d will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Anti-Nazi dissident, executed by the Nazis in 1945.

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