Image: “Seek Justice” written on a brick wall. Art by Rabbi Ruth Adar.
This message is aimed primarily at readers in the United States. It is a follow-up to the previous post Part 1: Why #Charlottesville is Different.
- Remember that we are all in this together. We Jews may have disagreements on some topics with each other or with other groups, but now is not the time to focus on that. What we have in common with Black Lives Matter and other minority groups is that white supremacists hate us all. Benjamin Franklin once said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
- Write, fax, call, and email our Congresspersons and Senators, demanding that Congress forthrightly condemn the events in Charlottesville and the ideology of white supremacy.
- Write the White House, condemning the President’s support of white supremacists and his association with staffers like Steven Bannon and Sebastian Gorka who have publicly espoused “alt-right” ideology. We each have to decide exactly what we will ask him to do.
- Write our local papers asking for a clear statement from our local officials condemning white supremacy. This is one time when it’s good to be a NIMBY.
- Support organizations that track and fight hate in the USA. This includes the NAACP, the ADL, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Get on the mailing list of the Religious Action Center. It describes itself as “the hub of Jewish social justice and legislative activity in Washington, D.C.” The RAC is a great place to learn about social justice initiatives and to join with others to protest injustice. If not the RAC, find some other organization where you can combine your effort with that of others.
- Recognize that there are Jews of Color, people who face both the oppression of anti-semitism and the oppression of racism. Learn about them. One place to learn is the website of Be’chol Lashon, “In Every Voice.” Another is JIMENA, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. Recognize that there have been Jews with brown or black skins back to the very beginnings of Judaism.
- Drop the defensive attitude about other people’s oppression. When someone talks about their people’s troubles, we should not immediately reply “But not all of us…” or “But Jews are oppressed too…” When someone is talking about their people’s troubles, we need to LISTEN. Just listen. If they ask for a response, say, “I’m listening.” Listen and learn.
- Educate ourselves. We have a responsibility as Jews to study and to learn. Start with one article or book. Then read another. Some reading lists from the internet:
- Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race – articles as well as books
- Tim Wise’s Reading List – categorized by topic
- White People Challenging Racism reading list
- Suggested Reading from the Social Justice Training Institute
- Speak up. I have an awful time speaking up to my elders, but the situation is dire. When someone says something hateful or disparaging about people of another race or religion, we must speak up. I have been practicing in front of the bathroom mirror, saying firmly: “I don’t like that kind of talk. Please don’t.”
These are things we can do. If you have ideas about more ways to fight this situation, I hope you will suggest them in the comments.
Justice, Justice you shall pursue! – Deuteronomy 16:20
15 thoughts on “Part 2: 10 Things We Can Do Now About #Charlottesville”
Thank you, Sir. Yes, good people need to speak up – love, tolerance, and acceptance must have a voice.
Do you have any other specific ideas about how we can speak up?
Sir, I wish I knew the answers – truly, Maybe a small step is sharing a blog post or a guest blog? I strolled down the street of Richmond, VA this morning – and I made it a point to smile, to say HI, to hold the door – I know those are small things. Maybe a smile is a start? I am eager to read more of your posts – to learn.
Treating others respectfully is a wonderful starting point. Learning about the lives of others is another. Glad to have you with us here, 2gatherstones!
By the way, I’m Rabbi Ruth Adar – you don’t need to call me “Sir,” “Rabbi” is what people usually call me.
Thank you, Rabbi
I am a biracial Jew who looks white. Today I made a point of wearing a t-shirt from the Smithsonian African American museum that I just visited 2 weeks ago. I want people to know what side I am on since I am not visibly Black. I’m off work for the summer, so I wore it to the gym.
Debra, thank you so much for responding and being visible here.
Mankind is sick, he is and always been mentally disturbed. We see this same group of people through out the scriptures. Hashem knows how to deal with them, He will take care of those rebels. Miriam was deal with and allowed back in the community, Korah and his gang was destroyed. HaShem is watching, He will handle it.
I couldn’t disagree more. To say that mankind as a whole is “sick” and “disturbed” is to say that those who protest wrongdoing are the same as those who do wrong. And to say that “Hashem will handle it,” in my opinion, minimizes our responsibility to do something here and now to protect those who are endangered from those who hate them. We are commanded not to stand idly by the blood of our neighbor.
shalom patti I agree with you. but we must keep in mind that we cannot put HaShem into a box. He will do what He wants. He is the creator of good and evil. We have to do our part in cleaning the land from evil, just as the tribes of Israel were to clear the evil from the land HaShem gave to them, but they failed, we can see the results today. We are being tested by HaShem to keep his instructions and do the best we can and we fail from time to time, but we keep trying. This is a wicked world we live in and we continue to do our best. Shalom
Buzi14, I agree that hatred is a kind of sickness. I pray that the day will come when we heal ourselves of it. I believe that the Holy One who made us gave us heads and hearts and intended us to use them.
Rabbi, I joined RAC. Thank you so much; I had no idea it existed. I think being a catalyst for the world we want to see is the best way to inspire gratitude, compassion and facilitate understanding between us all. The majority of violence is based on fear. The best way to address fear is to bring it out into the open and adress it honestly, instead of letting it breed in th darkness. We all have a voice, but a chorus resounds and commands attention!
I am so glad, Spotlight. I hope that you find your participation with the RAC very satisfying.