Going Beyond Thoughts and Prayers – Racial Justice

Dear Temple Beth El Family,

The coronavirus pandemic has magnified and exacerbated the inequalities in our society. While we are in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.  The stark contrast between armed white militia safely protesting in a capitol building and unarmed black men and women being killed highlights the profound and pervasive ways in which race and racism are embedded in our society. When unarmed black people gather in protest, they are in danger. When white people gather in protest, they stay safe. The world as it is, is not as it should be.

We mourn and share in the outrage being expressed nationwide around the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breona Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, along with countless other unarmed black men and women who have been killed in recent weeks.

Over the course of the past few days, the clergy team has been meeting with fellow faith leaders and city officials. Yesterday, Rabbi Knight met with Mayor Lyles, prominent Charlotte clergy, and the city manager. We are all in conversation about how we might best play a role in supporting the people of color in our own Temple Beth El community as well as across Charlotte.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” We must raise up a vision for a more whole and just society. Many of you have reached out to ask how we might respond as a temple, and to offer your support. Thank you. Below, you will find a number of first steps.

We Mourn Together
Join us tomorrow, Monday, June 1 at 12:00pm for a Community-Wide Vigil to Lament and Mourn the more than 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19. We began planning this vigil last week, before the news about George Floyd’s death. Monday’s gathering will focus on mourning the deaths of those who have died of COVID, we will also make mention of and begin the conversation around how our greater Charlotte faith community might dismantle the systems that have upheld racism in our city and country for generations.

We invite participation by all who are virtually present on Zoom. During the service, all participants will be invited to either hold up (in front of your camera) a sign with a word of prayer or a lit candle or light. Join via Zoom or Facebook Live.

We Learn Together
Check out Rabbi Judy Schindler’s blog post, “If you are white and asking ‘what can I do?’”. Among her many suggestions: “pick up your phone and reach out to those you know who are African American and ask: ‘How are you doing? How can I support you?’ [Then] Listen, listen, listen and learn.”

Resources to Watch, Read, Listen, & Notice
Use Temple Beth El’s list of resources to diversify your understanding of the complexity of the issues. Connect with other members of the congregation, clergy, or your TriBE to discuss. Temple Beth El members, we will purchase and deliver any of the below books to your door (or your Kindle, whichever you prefer). We’ve decided to allocate social justice and Clergy Good Works dollars to help congregants self-educate. Fill out this form to make your request. Note: we acknowledge that learning is the beginning and not the end of this journey. We look forward to growing and acting, together.

  • How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Color of Love by Mara Gad
  • White Fragility by Robin Deangelo
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Tatum

We Act Together
Looking to do something today? Here is a great article entitled “75 Things for White People to do to be Anti-Racist Allies during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Stay tuned. Conversations are ongoing about various opportunities for our Temple Beth El community to further educate ourselves and take action. If you have particular interest or energy in being involved in our TBE Race&Justice efforts, please email Rabbi Klass directly.

We recently observed the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Exactly 50 days after Passover, the holiday reminds us of our journey from oppression to freedom. As the Jewish philosopher, Michael Walzer, explains “There is a winding way to the promised land.” We know that the world as it is, is not as it ought to be. May God Bless us as we care for ourselves and for all people. May God inspire us to be gracious, even when it is hard. May God encourage us to turn to others – across lines of difference, neighborhoods, political parties, and religions – in a partnership that brings justice and wholeness to the world.

L’shalom,

Rabbi Asher Knight
Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas
Rabbi Dusty Klass
Rabbi Judy Schindler 

One thought on “Going Beyond Thoughts and Prayers – Racial Justice

  1. Mary Pat Nanney

    Awareness is the first step. Until these killings in the recent past years, I thought that race relations were so much better. We’re good. Of course I am a child of the sixties and I guess-hope- they are better than then. But these most recent many days of peaceful protests have opened my eyes. I knew Black people are subject to racism and are stopped more often by police and are looked upon suspiciously and thought of badly by some. I did not realize how pervasive it is. My heart cries for that. And I feel helpless.

    I look forward to this discussion. And I am impressed by and grateful for Temple Beth El’s constant and ongoing attention to Community outreach.

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