Black Lives Matter
“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).
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.” (Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism) The injustices of racism impact every aspect of American life, and will continue to do so unless we all act together to understand and eliminate them. “We are not required to finish the task, but neither are we free to desist from it.” (Pirke Avot 2:21)
We, as Jews, must know our neighbors, understand their trauma and experiences and work together as allies to end racism. We, as Jews, must commit to efforts to acknowledge and combat implicit and explicit bias. We, as Jews, must support a movement that calls for a just society without bigotry and hate. “Racism and antisemitism are two sides of the same coin, and we must fight them wherever they appear.” (President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin) The Jewish community is proud of its solidarity with the civil rights movement of the past, and is committed to engage in the civil rights movement of today.
Black Lives Matter is not a set group of people or organizations, Black Lives Matter should be understood as the new civil rights movement in America. Falsely characterizing Black Lives Matter as antisemitic is against our own best interests, forcing a wall of fear between the Black and Jewish communities. “When we hear and accept what we hear without meeting others, without asking how can it be…when we accept hatred for a group as a legitimate discourse - Pharoah is alive and well, inside ourselves.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel) Therefore, Beth Hillel Temple affirms that Black Lives Matter.
Our congregation, our Reform Movement, and our community are racially diverse. We honor this, and believe that our strength lies in this diversity. We believe that our Jewish values teach us to work for a just and fair world. We commit to studying our own biases and privileges, as individuals and within our congregation. We commit to taking active steps to work against ongoing systemic racism in our communities and institutions.
*With grateful acknowledgement to the Religious Action Center of the Union of Reform Judaism, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.