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Bais Abe Statement Against Racism

The Bais Abraham community has long embodied the idea that the Torah’s messages about how we treat one another are as essential to leading a religious life as the laws of kashrut, Shabbat and prayer. The Torah teaches that we are all created in the image of G-d, and that every human life is of infinite value. For this reason, we have an obligation to treat each person with dignity and respect. The Torah commandment “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” flows from the fact each of my fellow human beings is as deserving of my consideration as I am. 

Even more than this, though, the Torah commands us “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof “— “Justice Justice shall you pursue.” It is not enough that we as individuals treat people well. We have an obligation to “pursue” a world in which all people are treated with fairness and dignity. 

For this reason, we believe it is imperative that we speak out against the historic and ongoing discrimination experienced by people of color in America today, especially African Americans. When access to education, housing, employment and justice depends to a large degree on the color of one's skin, that is a denial of the fundamental equality of each human being and an insult to the divine image within each of us. When Black people are treated as though their lives are of little value, it is important to affirm that their lives do matter. 

This moment presents an opportunity to join together with other Americans of all backgrounds to address and rectify the ongoing legacy of racism in our society. As Jews, we are a multi-racial people, and therefore we join in this struggle not out of a sense of generosity or kindness towards others, but because this is our struggle also. Just as those of us who are seen as white have an obligation to educate ourselves and fight against inequality in the larger society, we also have an obligation to seek to understand and rectify the ways that Jews of color are, to our sorrow, not always treated with equal dignity by their fellow Jews. 

Finally, we understand that any statement is only as valuable as the actions that follow. For this reason, a task force of Bais Abe members has begun working on initiatives related to racial justice, which we hope to be able to publicize in the days to come. We hope you will join us in these initiatives. 

Sincerely,

 
Garth Silberstein, Rabbi 
Larry Friedman, President, on behalf of the Board of Directors

 

Thu, April 25 2024 17 Nisan 5784