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we simply must

06/04/2020 10:22:32 AM

Jun4

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

My family came to these shores escaping anti-Semitism, looking for a better life for them and their families. His family came to these shores as property, having been ripped away from their family. My family looked over their shoulders to lovingly say goodbye to family and friends, unaware that when all was said and done, six million would be dead. His family screamed and cried as cruel men stole them, shoved them into cargo holds, and brought them here to sell them to the highest bidder. My family couldn’t attend many colleges, work at certain companies nor join country clubs. His family worked themselves to the bone, frequently without any pay, in these same colleges, companies and country clubs. Someone burst into my synagogue and murdered eleven worshippers because they were Jewish. In yet another of far too many examples, a black man died in the hands of the police.

We have different narratives, but our communities have faced the violent scourge of racism for far too long. We have worked together well in years past, as our common history unites us in common purpose. We must reinvigorate those bonds, as clearly our efforts have been insufficient.

One cannot legislate away the H word. It must come from education. As Oscar Hammerstein so beautifully penned in South Pacific: “You’ve got to be taught to H”. I cannot pretend to fully comprehend what it means to grow up as a person of color in America today, but I can commit to doing my best to erase racism from myself and others. My hand is extended in friendship and support of the African-American community as they have suffered the pain for too long, seemingly with no end in sight. Just as it has been the case for other issues that matter, change will not be forthcoming from our elected leaders. It must come from we, the people.

People of color have had enough, and their message is what must not be ignored amidst everything else going on. Racism is an intolerable disease of the human spirit, and it must be eradicated. It has no place in America. If we truly believe the words of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal, we must prove it not merely by word, but by deed.  Start by simply reviewing yourself and your attitudes. If you are quick to call out someone for being an anti-Semite, you must be equally quick to call out the racist.

Before I can offer hope, there is much to do so that we can be hopeful. We are not there yet. The disease of racism must be excised from the American body. It is a complex, but necessary, surgery. Only when we can truly see that the surgery is going well can we be so bold as to offer words of hope for a brighter future. I do believe that there are far more good people in this country than evil. That encourages me that we can do more, that we can do better. We must. We simply must.

Sun, July 12 2020 20 Tammuz 5780