Philando Castile. Alton Sterling.

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world.  – Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5

Two entire worlds disappeared in the last 24 hours when Philando Castile and Alton Sterling died at the hands of police. Witnesses recorded both shootings, and the police do not look good in the video.

Late last night, my son posted on his Facebook page: “I am up late tonight, unable to sleep, sad angry and scared. I didn’t know these men, but I could have. Next time this could be someone I know and love.”

Do not tell me that “All Lives Matter.” I know that. The question is, do we American taxpayers know it? Because right now it looks as if we do not know it. It looks like those in power in America believe that black lives don’t matter. It looks like we and our police believe that all African American males are so dangerous that one must shoot first and ask questions later.


That is why it is necessary to say #BlackLivesMatter. We say it because we must learn it. “All Lives Matter” is a platitude that attempts to cover our inadequacies with the obvious. #BlackLivesMatter points to the problem – the fact that this morning, two more families are without beloved fathers who were primary breadwinners.

Two entire worlds were destroyed. It matters.



Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

5 thoughts on “Philando Castile. Alton Sterling.”

  1. So beautifully put. Thank you. We already know that all life (lives) matters. What we have not yet grasped is that Black people have lives that matter. Too many white people don’t seem to grasp that black people are human. I agree with your son. This is terrifying.

  2. Rabbi Adar — I can’t help but see the connection between this post and your post yesterday… the lack of value assigned to the lives of people who are not white… It’s incredibly disheartening!

    1. Our tradition teaches that this problem or something like it has been with us a long time. That’s disheartening, true. What keeps me going is the knowledge that we have made progress in the past, and we will make progress again. I grew up in the Jim Crow South. We’ve come a long way since then, thanks to the sacrifices of many. If that situation can be improved, I believe that there is hope for us now, if we are willing to do the work.

Leave a Reply