The Reform Movement works in partnership with representatives from diverse communities to fight the structural racism that is embedded in our society and to advance justice for all people.
The United States simply cannot achieve the values of “justice for all” to which it aspires until we address ongoing racism in all sectors and at all levels of society. Despite the abolishment of slavery in 1865, systemic oppression, police violence, and racial discrimination against Black Americans and people of Color continues today. Lynchings, Jim Crow laws, restricted access to the ballot box, a biased criminal justice system, and redlining are just some examples of how racial inequity has been sustained in American life. Systemic disparities and injustices will endure unless proactive steps are taken to acknowledge and eliminate them. The Reform Movement works across lines of difference to fight the structural racism that is embedded in our society and to advance justice for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Why We Care about Racial Justice
In the Torah, Jews are taught to accept others, without prejudice or bias. The Torah states "You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman, but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Eternal" (Leviticus 19: 17-18). Our Jewish tradition is replete with instances of moral reckoning when we are asked to be present and accounted for. “Ayecha?” we are asked. “Where are you?” We respond with a full throated, “Hineinu.” “We are here.”
As Reform Jews committed to the spirit of this teaching, we say unequivocally, Black Lives Matter. To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to commit to a human and civil rights movement, working to end systemic racism against Black people and white supremacy.
To affirm that Black Lives Matter is to recognize that we are a racially diverse Reform Jewish Movement, and that our diversity is a source of our strength.
Take Action Now!
The ongoing wounds of slavery and more than four centuries of entrenched racial oppression continues to impact every part of American society. One way to address entrenched racial discrimination and systemic disparities is through the study and development of reparations proposals. Urge your elected officials to cosponsor the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act (S. 1083/H.R. 40).
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Dreasjon “Sean” Reed are just some of the latest victims of the nation’s long history of brutality against People of Color, and particularly Black men. Changes to federal laws are vital to ensure that law enforcement training, use of force policies, and data collection address historic and systemic racial injustices. Urge your Senator to cosponsor the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (S. 3912).
Engage Your Congregation
Following the Footsteps of the Prophets to Selma: A Conversation with Civil Rights Activist Rabbi Everett Gendler
Related Press Releases
Since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Jewish community has continued its support of civil rights laws addressing systemic discrimination in voting, housing, and employment against women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities.
Black Lives Matter is a human and civil rights movement, working to end systemic racism against Black people. Here is a quick primer on the movement, its principles, and more.
Reparations can take many forms and, in practice, these measures may manifest as congressional hearings, a national apology, the institution of government programs, creation of tax incentives for Black-owned businesses, educational stipends for Black Americans, individual or community compensation, or other approaches.
Learn About What Our Partners are Doing
- Review the guidebook and toolkit for community-centered policy solutions put together by The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights.
- Stand with our partners at the NAACP and their We Are Done Dying campaign. Learn more about the 2020 Virtual March on Washington at NAACP.org.
- Poor People’s Campaign
- Washington Interreligious Staff Community Faithful Democracy Coalitions
- League of Women Voters
- Brennan Center for Justice
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