A Reflection on our Collective Jewish Covenant

We enter Shabbat this week with heavy hearts, as our nation confronts the tragedy, horror and outrage of the loss of two more black lives at the hands of police officers along with countless incidents of violence against Asian-Americans across the country. This past Sunday, a police officer killed 20 year old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, MN. His death leaves his toddler without a father. Just yesterday, the Chicago Police Department released body cam footage, from 2 weeks ago, that shows 13-year-old Adam Toledo being shot to death by police after raising his hands in surrender. We mourn alongside their families and communities.

Over the past year members of our FJC community have been engaged in work to raise our Race Consciousness with the goal of making sure that we are living up to our collective values. From participation in our Race Consciousness Series, to being part of our Raising Race Conscious Kids group to attending the workshops that have been offered by various Jewish organizations, our community is learning and expanding its definition of Social Justice to include Racial Justice. As your President, I have been serving on UJA’s Racial Justice Advisory Committee and have been working with the team that is moving the Racial Justice work happening within USCJ, USY and the Jewish Education Project forward. Our FJC Board Leadership team has also been engaged in training that will help our FJC community live up to our value and commitment to this Social Justice work.

In Pirkei Avot 2:21, Rabbi Tarfon says, “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.” Last June, in response to the killing of George Floyd, a group emerged called Not Free To Desist: Re-Imagining Our Collective Jewish Covenant In their open letter from Black Jews, Non-Black Jews of Color, and their allies, they challenged Jewish Federations, Foundations, Organizations, and Initiatives to commit to fulfilling at least 4 of their 7 obligations by June 2021. As a synagogue community, I challenge us all to think about what the fulfillment of these obligations would look like at FJC:

1. Explicit endorsement that Black Lives Matter
2. Establish racial justice and social equity as an explicit pillar of your organization
3. Commit to explicit intersectional anti-racist and inclusive hiring and compensation practices
4. Commit to anti-racist educational initiatives, curriculums and frameworks
5. Invest in JOC and POC leadership development
6. Create a robust list of racial justice, equity and inclusion requirements that all grantees receiving Jewish institutional funding must adhere to
7. Engage in the development of a fully funded initiative to assist in our communal accountability

We invite each of you to reach out to us and join the conversation about what our community can do to re-imagine our collective covenant and live up to our obligation to repair the world.

Our Social Justice work at FJC is ongoing:
* We are currently co-sponsoring a series with Congregation Shirat HaYam entitled: We Shall Not Be Silent-Conversations on Race
* We have partnered with Met Council NY and our KWT community leaders to host a Mobile Food Pantry beginning this month
* In May, we will be hosting a series entitled: Our Liberation is Bound Together

May the memories of Daunte & Adam be a blessing and a inspiration to fight for justice in their name.

Shabbat Shalom,
POTS and the Racial Justice Team