Board of Rabbis and Cantors of Hampton Roads’ Statement of Commitment to Combating Racism

July 9, 2020

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Tzedek, tzedek tirdof: “Justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deut. 16:20).

We, the Jewish faith leaders of Hampton Roads, are appalled not only by the murder of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, but by the long procession of African-Americans who have been murdered because of the color of their skin. We have been searching our own hearts and struggling to determine our role in the fight against racism. Those of us who are not people of color cannot begin to fathom the pain and frustration of fellow Americans who have suffered under the knee of oppression, by law and by custom, for centuries, to this very day.

There’s a lot we don’t know.

But we do know this: We are ready.

We are ready to listen, learn, and understand. We are ready to grapple with our complicity in the systems that oppress our neighbors of color and to fight to change them. We are ready to stand alongside our Black and Brown sisters and brothers and demand that all children be fed, housed, educated, and loved. We are ready to fight the irrational pathology that causes people to judge one another on the basis of skin color. We are ready to proclaim that anti-racism is not a zero-sum game, that promoting justice for one group does not cause less justice for another. We are ready to look beyond hashtag slogans and proclaim, in word and in deed, that no life can be said to matter until Black lives matter equally. We are ready, in the metaphor coined by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel during the civil rights movement, to pray with our feet.

We are ready to pursue justice alongside you.

Cantor Elihu Flax (President), Beth Sholom Village
Rabbi Murray Ezring, Congregation Beth El
Cantor Wendi Fried, Congregation Beth El
Rabbi Alexander Haber, B’nai Israel Congregation
Rabbi Ellen Jaffe-Gill, Tidewater Chavurah
Rabbi Marc Kraus, Temple Emanuel
Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg, Ohef Sholom Temple
Rabbi Michael Panitz, Temple Israel
Cantor David Proser, Kempsville Conservative Synagogue
Cantor Jennifer Rueben, Ohef Sholom Temple
Rabbi Arthur Ruberg, Congregation Beth El
Rabbi Israel Zoberman, Temple Lev Tikvah

Letter to the Editor