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Answering The Call To End Racism: How To Move Forward

July 1, 2020


“Where are you?” is the first question in the Torah, posed from God to Adam, after the first couple eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The reader understands that God knows where they are physically. The question posed is deeper and existential.

Where are we right now? Among other things, we are living radically constricted lives in response to a deadly pandemic. We need comfort and strength and discipline for the long days ahead as our lives continue to be altered by the threat and the presence of corona virus. We encourage all to savor the wonders of nature and to connect to Beth Israel for supportive services and activities. We are also confronting, along with our fellow Americans, the racism embedded in the foundation of this country and the ways that it continues in smaller and in larger, devastating ways.

BI members have been asking, “what can I do now, at this moment?” As we approach that question it is important to acknowledge the important work that so many are already doing and will continue to do. The new questions are really; what now, what more, what separately, what collectively, how can each of us learn, grow, change and act so that we are doing all we can to undo personal, institutional and systemic racism.

Guilt is not helpful. Those of us who are white did not invent white privilege. The call is to learn about it, to see it for what it is and to work to eliminate it. We need to cultivate humility and curiosity for this journey. And know that no matter how hard we try, we will do this imperfectly. If you are white and take this seriously be prepared to be called on your blind spots. I certainly have been called on these over the years and through that I have grown.

I have been involved in this work in one way or another my whole adult life and I will never be finished. This is a lifelong project. But at this moment more of us feel strongly called so let’s focus and do this together.

On Saturday July 11th at 11 a.m. I will be leading a Contemporary Conversation with the theme of "Answering The Call To End Racism: How To Move Forward." I hope you will come and take part in this important conversation.

No one of us is expected to have the answers. But, we will share our questions and our wisdom as we thoughtfully explore ways that we might work on this individually and collectively. We plan to continue these conversations and this work into the coming year.

The road ahead is long but I trust us to lean into this opportunity, to grow as we must and to find our way to contribute toward an ongoing healing from racism. In closing, I’d like to share a piece of Torah from the Ba’al Shem Tov. He taught:

It is incumbent upon every person to pursue that particular aspect of healing of the world/seeking justice that is meant for their soul alone.

May we discover our soul’s work and may that bring blessing to the world. With gratitude for your partnership in this work, Rabbi Linda

Thu, November 30 2023 17 Kislev 5784