We support the following statement from the JCC Association regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement.
JCC Association: “Each of Us Has a Part to Play”
Rabbi Tarfon taught:
It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.”
הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה. אִם לָמַדְתָּ תוֹרָה הַרְבֵּה, נוֹתְנִים לְךָ שָׂכָר הַרְבֵּה. וְנֶאֱמָן הוּא בַעַל מְלַאכְתְּךָ שֶׁיְּשַׁלֵּם לְךָ שְׂכַר פְּעֻלָּתֶךָ. וְדַע מַתַּן שְׂכָרָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא
Pirkei Avot 2:16
We are profoundly disturbed and deeply offended by the specter of racism and discrimination in this country and join with the Black community and with all those demanding that we live up to the principles of freedom, equality, and justice that are the cornerstones of our society.
These same principles are integral to who we are. We take great pride in our own diversity—as a Jewish community and as a movement. People of color, of diverse faiths and backgrounds, new immigrants and veteran Americans and Canadians all are part of our movement. They are JCC members and participants, and they hold proud and honored places on the staffs and boards of Jewish Community Centers and Camps from coast to coast. Embracing and honoring that diversity is fundamental to our mission—and may now be more important than ever.
We are inspired by voices calling upon us to come together to root out racism and inequality while those who would incite and divide us, sow discord and disharmony that place our progress as a nation at risk. The ethos of the JCC Movement, predicated on a celebration of our diversity as Jews and as a community, is at the very heart of who we are and what we aspire to be.
Elie Wiesel, z”l, Holocaust survivor and symbol of the Jewish people’s triumph over evil during the worst period of vicious anti-Semitism in history, left us a legacy of great wisdom, including this excerpt from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986:
I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
It’s going to get better, and each of us has a part to play.