23 April 2021
Many Jews cite the mandate to pursue justice as one of Judaism’s most inspiring teachings and a value that defines their connection to Jewish life. The idea that we are called upon to work alongside God to repair the fractures we see in the world is as empowering as it is humbling. We are meant to meet the challenges of our time with conviction and commitment.
In America today, this includes the urgent work of helping to shape a more just society for all.
The guilty verdict in the trial of George Floyd’s murderer earlier this week marks a step towards justice, to be sure. The charges hold him accountable for his actions, regardless of his uniform, and will hopefully lead to crucial changes in policing. But as the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and The Dakotas states, “No murder conviction can bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends fully whole for their loss. And there is still much more work to be done to confront systemic racism.”
The need to evolve the systems by which we live is painfully clear. Issues relating to poverty, housing, homelessness, mental health care, education, and employment are affecting people’s daily lives and their long-term outcomes. For all the progress we have made as a country, someone’s race, zip code, and family income level still have much too great an impact on their path in life and the opportunities available to them.
In response, we must be more than simply well informed. To fulfill our obligation as Jews, we must do our part to restore justice where it is absent. Whether it is making a concerted effort to ensure Jews of Color see themselves reflected in our community, caring for our planet, working to unravel entrenched discrimination, or combatting economic inequity, we have an essential role to play, together.
To this end, we at Federation are committed to continuing to support community-led efforts to create positive change in Jewish life and in our country. Last week, we were particularly proud to partner with more than 60 organizations and 2,300 volunteers to help address food insecurity in our region, an effort that stems from our new anti-poverty initiative. Federation also remains committed to using our resources and platform to build a culture of belonging for all and to push back against chronic racism. For more on this topic, I invite you to join us for the third installment of our series on race and relationships, Moving Towards Action and Accountability, on April 29th.
Ultimately, however, the work before us exceeds the capacity of any single organization, community, or even generation. But rather than turn away from it all, we must keep pressing on in service of others. Part of what defines the Jewish community is our capacity to inherit a world in progress and change it for the better. Together, we can carry this legacy forward and ensure the continuous pursuit of justice.