Sunday, May 31, 2020

COVID trumps protests for now

I write you as your rabbi in a time of racial turmoil.  If we were able to gather physically, I would call on us to gather in our building to hold a community meeting and plan our involvement as a force for good at this time.  I would join with others to stand up and support in person all peaceful voices for racial justice in America.  I would lead any who would follow to gather with others in our area in common cause. I am frustrated that this is not possible at this time.  

I will not join public protests, and I will not participate in large unorganized gatherings at this time.  I reject the voices who say COVID is not as important as Justice, as if they were unrelated.  COVID has decimated every dense population center in New Jersey and NY, and has been especially horrific in disadvantaged neighborhoods. COVID’s impact, in unemployment and illness amplifies the world of injustice that is the background for the current strife.  Gathering large groupings of those same communities in those same places will surely be a death sentence for some. It is short-sighted to demand the protest, and roll the dice. 

I call on each of you to look at the systemic inequality experienced in America.  Regardless of your political and social views, accept that a broad and deep percentage of the nation is crying out clearly for intervention and for change based on their lived experience.  That voice is a voice of prophecy.  It is the cry of the Hebrew prophets of old, and it echoes in the streets of Minneapolis today.  

No cry of “Justice” can be ignored by a Jew.  In every way you can, get involved. Learn. Listen. Support. Demand the just society that we all believe in. And find your way to make it happen.  Whatever your piece of this is that you believe, focus on that - nurture it and make it grow.

I recognize that many say this is "too little." Please know, this is not all I do.  This is not all you should do.  This note is just about this note: I will not attend a rally right now, and I hear the cry of prophecy in the wind.

Rabbi Robert L. Tobin

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