June 1, 2020 – This past weekend, we celebrated Shavuot, the Jewish holiday commemorating Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. The teachings of the Torah given to Moses provide us with a lens through which we see the world – and a lens so that we might act in ways that are right and just.
And it is that lens we should call to mind as, once more, we and our neighbors seek to navigate yet another painful episode in our nation’s struggle to make good on the fundamental promise of our founders that all people are created equal and they are endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston stands shoulder to shoulder with the Black community and, indeed, with all communities of color in unconditionally condemning the sickening and senseless murder of native Houstonian George Floyd and in calling for justice to be meted out to all responsible for this crime. We are committed to working arm-in-arm with all minority communities toward a more just and equitable society through meaningful action so that the tragedy the Floyd family has endured will not have been for naught.
We call on people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and faiths to speak up now against the poisonous persistence of racism that remains a stain on our nation. Racism in America—just like the rising tide of antisemitism in the nation—is a repugnant and dangerous virus which spreads in the face of passivity. As Jews, we know personally and painfully the dangers of unchecked hatred. We see ourselves in the marginalization of the other, and we will act against it as if we were the ones targeted.
The words of our ancient Hebrew Scriptures cry out to us: “Justice, Justice shall you pursue!” The death of George Floyd comes in the wake of a string of similar incidents and long-standing systemic injustice. We remember their names and we hold in our hearts too long a list of those who fell victim before them.
Let us commit personally and as a community to do everything in our power – peacefully and yet forcefully – not to let those who perpetuate hate to have a louder voice than those who fight against it. Racism, intolerance, and inequality must have no place in our country.