I’m largely focused on Adas Israel, since I’m a member there. On June 5, my senior rabbis joined the Washington Interfaith Network for this press conference on racist violence, and challenging the gentrification that forces people of color from the city.
Rabbi Aaron Alexander offered this in his opening prayer:
We consciously decided, embedded, even legislated liberty and justice for some, but not all. And too many of us still decide, every single day with the choices we make, the money we spend, the space we claim, the land we develop, the people we displace, the wages we steal, the rods and staffs we wield, we somehow keep saying that your enough is enough for me, but not for all of you. And so, I am here, God, on behalf of, with the permission of, while asking forgiveness from my brothers and sisters behind me, to say enough is enough.
That evening, for Kabbalat Shabbat (which I’m linking to even though it feels sacrilegious, then again, the video is archived, right? :P), Adas hosted Ilana Kaufman, director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative.
Most Jewish spaces in America were created by and largely cater to white Ashkenazi Jews. Among other topics, Kaufman implored those congregants to not see themselves as separate from Jews of Color.
Our narrative and our history in the United States is the Jewish people who somehow presented as all white. And the story that we captured of presenting and being all white, I want to suggest that’s the anomaly. It’s such an important chapter of our history, but really no time in our 5,000 years have we thought we were all white. Or have we all operated just white Jews and Jews of Color. And so, we have learned this behavior of separation from this country. And this moment is inviting us to learn the behavior of coming back together.
June is also Pride Month! Although the Capital Pride Parade has been postponed, on June 19 the Edlavitch JCC is hosting a Virtual Pride Shabbat with various Jewish LGBTQ+ organizations. Bet Mishpachah Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin will be co-leading.
I’m grateful to the DC Jewish community for this light in the darkness! Stay safe, everyone.